Playing Tetris 'can prevent painful flashbacks for crash victims'

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Playing Tetris can held ward off the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a new study claims.

PTSD can happen when someone has experienced a traumatic event where they felt their life, or the life of another person, was in danger.

Intrusive memories are one of the main symptoms of PTSD, an anxiety disorder developed by one in four people who have been in motor accidents.

Emily Holmes, professor of psychology at Karolinska Institutet's Department of Clinical Neuroscience, has spent many years studying the kind of preventative effects that behavioural interventions - such as a procedure including the computer game Tetris - can have on reducing intrusive memories after experimental trauma. The research was conducted by scientists on 71 auto crash victims as they waited for their treatment at the hospital's accident and emergency department.

The study was published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

"Our findings suggest that if you engage in very visually demanding tasks soon after a trauma, this can help block or disrupt the memory being stored in an overly vivid way", Prof.

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"This is early days and more research is needed". 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.

Auto crash victims were found to have fewer symptoms if they were asked to recall their memories and then play a 20-minute game of Tetris in hospital within six hours of admission. 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.

Intrusive memories often spring to mind without warning after someone has experienced some form of trauma and they can bring back specific sights, sounds and emotions attached to the original incident. "Tetris also requires imagination and vision".

In the study, those who underwent Tetris therapy were far less likely to experience terrifying flashbacks of their crashes than those who did not receive the intervention.

Tetris is one of the most addictive video games ever, but now scientist have found it could help stop PTSD flashbacks.