Published: Thu, March 30, 2017
Medical | By Ismael Lynch

Playing Tetris can help treat PTSD symptoms: Swedish-British study

Playing Tetris can help treat PTSD symptoms: Swedish-British study

Researchers found that vehicle crash survivors who played "Tetris" in the emergency room within six hours of their crashes had 62 percent fewer flashbacks during the week following the event, compared with auto crash survivors who performed a different task in the emergency room. The students were asked to update the researchers throughout their day on their level of cravings for drugs, food and drink, exercise, and sex.

Results showed that they had fewer intrusive memories of the trauma in total over the week immediately following the accident than others.

Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden have been experimenting with this idea for a while, mainly by showing gory film clips to volunteers.

The patients in the study were far less likely to experience traumatic flashbacks to their accident than those who did not receive any intervention. But these intrusive memories, one aspect of post-traumatic stress disorder, may be preventable. They found that playing Tetris after seeing something traumatic seems to reprogram your brain to stop flashbacks. He toured the country with his loyal service dog...

A group of casualty patients at John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford were asked if playing Tetris for up to 20 minutes helped prevent "intrusive memories" of the crash over the following week. The researchers therefore believe that introducing science-driven psychological treatment methods such as behavioural protocols including Tetris that could be delivered by staff during this waiting period could be a straightforward way by which to reduce the later impact of patients' psychological trauma.

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People in the "Tetris" group experienced nine flashbacks, on average, during the week, compared to 23 flashbacks on average in the control group, the study found. "Playing "Tetris" seemed a bit unusual at the time, but looking back, it has been a help".

As one participant put it when she reflected on whether the intervention including playing Tetris helped her at all: "It certainly took my mind off it at a time when I probably would have sat brooding and feeling very sorry for myself".

The others were given a written activity to complete.

Their study, published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, wanted to assess whether this type of gaming could disrupting consolidation of a trauma memory.

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