Why Playing Tetris Can Actually be Therapeutic

Fagjun | Published 2017-04-01 09:30

The simplicity of a game of Tetris can be therapeutic for people who have suffered a traumatic event, scientists say.

Russian game designer Alexey Pajitnov created the game and released it on June 6, 1984. Though the mechanics and rules of the game are quite simple, it has remained popular throughout the decades. People born in the eighties and nineties probably remember spending hours playing this game. There was something immensely satisfying about clearing row after row of blocks until the game board was almost clear.

The very fist version of Tetris

Creating a Distraction

It may be exactly this feeling of purpose, focus, and satisfaction that can help victims of traumatic incidents fight off the early symptoms of PTSD. When patients play Tetris within six hours after a trauma-inducing accident, they suffer fewer intrusive memories of the incident.

In a new study, researchers administered “Tetris therapy” to 71 patients suffering from shock after an automobile accident. These patients have been involved in accidents as drivers, passengers, or pedestrians. The researchers asked one group of patients to think of memories of the accident, then start playing the game on a console. Another group of patients in similar circumstances did not play the game.

After a week, the first group of patients reported fewer intrusive thoughts about their accident than the second group did.

According to the findings, playing even just 20 minutes of brain stimulation can distract patients from thinking about their accident. This will help patients form fewer memories of the traumatic event and thus help keep them from developing PTSD.

Tetris as Cogitive Therapy

It's best to address the psychological effects of a traumatic incident early on to keep PTSD at bay.

Flashbacks, or recurring memories and visualizations of traumatic events, is a symptom of PTSD. These flashbacks can be disturbing and distressing to the sufferer, and it can impact the psychological recovery from the event. It can also impact a person's everyday life and overall mental well-being. It's best, therefore, to try to stop PTSD from developing.

Of course, just about all of us can experience a traumatic incident. It can thus be helpful if psychologists can find effective ways to reduce the likelihood that PTSD will develop. Using Tetris to help distract patients from potentially traumatic memories is a simple and effective form of psychological intervention.

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