Playing Tetris for 20 minutes acts as a "vaccine" against post-traumatic stress disorder, an Oxford University study has suggested.
Oxford University and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden found that patients treated in accident and emergency departments following auto accidents were far less likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) if they were allowed to play the game within six hours of admission.
PTSD can happen when someone has experienced a traumatic event where they felt their life, or the life of another person, was in danger.
Professor Emily Holmes, a neuroscientist in Sweden's Karolinska Institutet, led the study.
According to a statement from the Swedish Karolinska Institutet on Tuesday, researchers have been able to demonstrate how the survivors of vehicle accidents have fewer such symptoms if they play Tetris in hospital within six hours of admission.
Tetris players experienced "significantly fewer" intrusive memories in the week which followed compared to those who did the writing exercise.
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A single dose of psychological therapy, including a stint playing the classic computer game, can prevent the unpleasant and intrusive memories that develop in some people after suffering a traumatic event, researchers found. Not to mention, other researchers also found a more rapid reduction in bad memories among those who played the game.
The study was carried out on 71 patients admitted to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. Along with a team at the University of Oxford, she used Tetris therapy on patients admitted to the emergency room in a state of shock after auto accidents. All you have to do, according to a new study, is play Tetris after the accident.
"Anyone can experience trauma", says Professor Holmes.
One patient said the game helped stave off his recurring memory of smashing into a tree and hearing the sound of the air bag in his auto being activated.
Tetris may help people suffering with PTSD. They found that playing Tetris after seeing something traumatic seems to reprogram your brain to stop flashbacks.
Holmes has just published a study which found that tapping into a patient's visual memory is a good method of starting to treat the psychological impact of traumatic events and that Tetris is a good way to do this.