Playing Tetris after trauma may reduce bad flashbacks

Playing the video game “Tetris” shortly after a traumatic event, such as a car crash, may reduce the risk of developing intrusive flashbacks of the event, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that car crash survivors who played “Tetris” in the emergency room within 6 hours of their crashes had 62 percent fewer flashbacks during the week following the event, compared with car crash survivors who performed a different task in the emergency room.

In flashbacks, people re-experience the sights and sounds of a traumatic event in the form of “intrusive” memories, meaning these memories pop up without any warning or trigger. Such experiences are a core symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). People who experience such flashbacks in the days following a traumatic event are at higher risk of developing long-lasting PTSD, the researchers said.