Studies show Tetris can be used as EMDR therapy for trauma victims

Patients brought to the hospital after a traumatic car accident reported fewer intrusive memories after playing 20 minutes of Tetris.


In the past, there have been a number of studies showing how Tetris can be used as a form of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. When the studies were first published, they didn’t garner as much attention as they deserve, especially given how effective Tetris was shown to be in helping treat and manage conditions like PTSD.

Fortunately, more people are starting to take notice of these studies and have been sharing similar stories about how Tetris has helped them with PTSD and other mental health-related issues on social media.

Going back to the PTSD study, it suggests that playing as little as 20 minutes of Tetris can help reduce the unpleasant flashbacks and intrusive memories caused by traumatic incidents.

As reported by outlets like TIME, researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden reported that survivors of car crashes had fewer unpleasant flashbacks and intrusive memories if they played Tetris “within six hours after they are admitted to hospital and asked to briefly recall their memory of the accident.”

The study involved a total of 71 patients all brought to the John Radcliffe Hospital emergency room in Oxford, England, within six hours of being in a car accident. While at the hospital, these patients were asked to recall the trauma of the accident, after which they were then asked to play Tetris for a total of 20 minutes.

As reported by NPR, “The gamers were found to have 62 percent fewer intrusive memories in the first week after their accident than the control group. What’s more, their bad memories diminished more quickly than in controls.”

While the findings are impressive, it’s also noted that more research is needed given the small sample size of the study. “More research is definitely needed to develop this approach, but we’re encouraged,” noted Emily Holmes, lead author of the Tetris study and a professor of psychology at the Karolinska Institute.

If the study isn’t enough to convince you to give Tetris therapy a try, the official Tetris website includes the following on its Fun Facts page:

With this, it’s clear that Tetris is useful for more than just passing the time. While more studies are undoubtedly needed to understand the full scope of Tetris’s impact in helping trauma survivors, among other potential health benefits, it’s nevertheless exciting to contemplate the possibilities.

Tetris is a game that’s been around for over 30 years and is available on every platform imaginable from your phone to the Nintendo Switch, and everything in between.

With Tetris being so readily available, people can easily conduct their own research into the matter. For example, if you endure a traumatic event, try playing Tetris for 20 minutes afterward. It may be difficult, but at the same time, you may find yourself suffering from fewer flashbacks than if you hadn’t given Tetris a try.

After reading up about how Tetris can help trauma survivors, we’re curious whether you’ve had any similar experiences with Tetris. Let us know in Chatty!

Senior Editor

Morgan is a writer from the frozen wastelands of Maine who enjoys metal music, kpop, horror, and indie games. They're also a Tetris fanatic who's fiercely competitive in games like Tetris 99... and all games in general. But mostly Tetris. You can follow Morgan on Twitter @Author_MShaver.

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