Tetris, the iconic, simple but mesmerizing game of fitting little digital blocks in neatly with each other. It’s a satisfying pastime. But a new study now suggests that it could have therapeutic effects on car crash victims.
Clinics in the past have used all sorts of methods to help alleviate trauma patients’ psychological scars. A group of researchers from the UK and Sweden published a study in March that found that playing only 20 minutes of Tetris after a car crash can help prevent painful, traumatic memories from forming, reports NPR.
From the study:
The Tetris-based intervention (trauma memory reminder cue plus c. 20 min game play) vs attention-placebo control (written activity log for same duration) were both delivered in an emergency department within 6 h of a motor vehicle accident. The randomized controlled trial compared the impact on the number of intrusive trauma memories in the subsequent week (primary outcome). Results vindicated the efficacy of the Tetris-based intervention compared with the control condition: there were fewer intrusive memories overall, and time-series analyses showed that intrusion incidence declined more quickly.
Seventy-one patients participated in the study, which admittedly isn’t that many. The results were encouraging, however; NPR reports that the authors of the study feel justified to “a larger follow-up trial to test the long-term effects of Tetris therapy.” They are currently seeking funding.
Playing video games sometimes gets a bad rap, but this study shows that they can be used for good as well.