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Studies Show How Tetris Therapy Helps Patients With PTSD, Lazy Eye [VIDEO]

Update Date: Mar 30, 2017 10:14 AM EDT
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Studies have demonstrated how Tetris therapy helps patients have less vivid memories of traumatic events, lower cravings for certain foods, and improve the condition of amblyopia.

Emily Holmes, a professor of psychology at the University of Karolinska, was interested in how Tetris therapy helps patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). At first, her team tried other games such as pub quiz or games that involve counting activities but they were not effective in making the impact the researchers desired. They explored the possibility of using a game which required focusing on visual details. Tetris was an easy choice.

Tetris is a puzzle video game where the player manipulates and matches tiles falling toward the horizontal line such that gaps are not created in the process. Successfully creating 10 rows without gaps makes them disappear and a new level starts.

It involves doing simple tasks but many people find them fascinating. Even the Russian programmer, Alex Pajitnov who developed the program could not resist playing it. It was released in 1984, according to the Huffington Post.

Holmes asked patients in the emergency section of a hospital in the UK to play Tetris. At the time, they were in a state of shock due to traffic accidents. Within the first six hours since the accident, 71 patients were asked to play Tetris on a Nintendo console.

The researchers found that the patients did not have as many disturbing flashbacks as those who did not play the game. They concluded that playing the game intervened in the process of creating very vivid memories of the traumatic events.

In an experiment carried out by researchers from Plymouth University and Queensland University of Technology, 31 volunteers provided information about their level of cravings for foods, drinks, drugs and activities like exercise and sex at different times of the day. They were asked to play Tetris for short periods and it resulted in a decline in cravings.

Earlier, Dr. Robert Hess of McGill University in Canada found that Tetris therapy helped improve the condition amblyopia, also called lazy eye. The volunteers who had amblyopia played the game with both eyes open as opposed to previous methods of treatment-- covering the stronger eye with a patch.

Two weeks later, their vision was better, the BBC reported.

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