Research: How Games May Help Treat PTSD

A new study from the UK reveals that Tetris – of all things – can help treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. A new study from Oxford University suggests that playing the popular falling block puzzle game may help to prevent visual flashbacks from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The study looked at how subjects exposed to video images of traumatic violence reacted after playing a word based game, Tetris, and then no game. Of those groups, only those who played Tetris had significantly fewer flashbacks. Oddly enough, those who played the word game had experienced more flashbacks than the control group or the Tetris group.

"We think it works because it’s competing with resources with the same kind of visual memory that would otherwise make a visual flashback," said Dr. Emily Holmes, one of the researchers.

Her group conducted an earlier study involving the game: They test the effects of playing Tetris after watching a violent film with real injury and death, where she found a similar result.

Other researchers are using games to prevent PTSD from happening in the first place by using games to prepare soldiers for the types of situations which may trigger PTSD. The military is financing research at USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies. Dr. Albert Rizzo and his team are using virtual reality games to expose soldiers to traumatic events such as experiencing a comrade being wounded or seeing the suffering of civilian children. At the most upsetting moment in the simulation, researchers freeze the action and a virtual character walks the player through the remainder of the experience.

"The rationale is you want to teach people this stuff when they’re in a state of arousal so that they’re more likely to access that learning when they’re in a similar state in real life," Rizzo said.

Source: Woodbridge Patch

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