A single dose psychological intervention including the computer game Tetris can help treat symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a joint Swedish-British research showed.
According to a statement from the Swedish Karolinska Institutet on Tuesday, researchers have been able to demonstrate how the survivors of car accidents have fewer such symptoms if they play Tetris in hospital within six hours of admission.
The results of the study has been published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry. Researchers studied 71 car crash victims admitted to John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford in Britain.
“Our hypothesis was that after a trauma, patients would have fewer intrusive memories if they got to play Tetris as part of a short behavioural intervention while waiting in the hospital Emergency Department,” said Emily Holmes, professor of psychology at Karolinska Institutet.
“Since the game is visually demanding, we wanted to see if it could prevent the intrusive aspects of the traumatic memories from becoming established i.e. by disrupting a process known as memory consolidation,” Holmes said.
And the research showed that, those who had played Tetris had fewer intrusive memories of the trauma in total over the week immediately following the accident than the controls. The researchers also found that the intrusive memories diminished more quickly, according to the statement.
“This first week after trauma can be important for our patients, who have to go home, recover and look after themselves, which can be hard to do if you're getting intrusive memories of the trauma, often several a day,” says Dr. Lalitha Iyadurai at Oxford University.
The research suggests, further research is needed on larger patient groups to see if the psychological benefits of the intervention persist for a longer time -- such as a month, which is the shortest time at which a PTSD diagnosis can be made.