How Does Tetris Relieve PTSD Symptoms?

How Does Tetris Relieve PTSD Symptoms?

Tetris is a tile stacking puzzle game where you manipulate the movement of how the tiles stack against each other so that they can form a line to eliminate. People who have post-traumatic stress disorder suffer through flashbacks of a traumatic event, making them constantly relive that painful experience. Studies have shown that Tetris can help alleviate these symptoms in those suffering from PTSD symptoms.

What Were Patients in This Study Supposed To Do?

In the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden were checking to see if Tetris was able to show therapeutic benefits in those with PTSD. Twenty patients with complex cases of PTSD were selected to undergo an unconventional intervention session along with traditional group therapy while they were in the hospital for five to ten weeks. During the weekly intervention session, the patients were asked to write visually about a traumatic memory on paper and then shred it. This step would be used as a reminder to bring a specific event to that person’s attention. After, the patients were to play Tetris silently for 25 minutes and keep a diary of their different flashbacks.

What Were the Results of This Study?

The researchers discovered that Tetris therapy worked for 16 out 20 patients. The frequency of their flashbacks were reduced by 64%. The ones that were not targeted by the experimental therapy declined by 11%.

What Did These Results Prove About PTSD?

The researchers believe that Tetris works because Tetris uses a similar part of the brain that PTSD patients use when they visualize a painful memory. Recalling the event in detail can create a temporary unstable memory trace in the brain. Playing Tetris after recalling your memory can interfere with the brain’s ability to store the memory trace back since it requires limited resources to process these images. Therefore, the weakened connection creates fewer flashbacks.

What Are Hopes for the Karolinska Institute?

Researchers hope that people struggling with PTSD can use this method of treatment at home on their own even if there are no therapies that use Tetris. Even though researchers know that this strategy will not replace the complex therapies used to deal with trauma, they are still optimistic about these results. This presents PTSD patients with further opportunities to confront the painful memories of flashbacks. This can give patients a coping mechanism to do on their own time.

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