Psychologists Turn to Tetris and Virtual Reality to Treat Veterans’ PTSD

Post traumatic stress disorder military

Psychologists are taking increasingly creative approaches to treating military trauma such as post traumatic stress disorder. New treatments use classic video games like Tetris, or even virtual reality, to lessen psychological symptoms. How much merit is there to this unique approach?

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Help In The Form of… Tetris?

“Focusing on a highly engaging visual-spatial task, such as playing video games, may significantly reduce the occurrence of flashbacks, the mental images concerning the trauma that intrude on the sufferer afterward,” LiveScience reports. London researchers demonstrated that playing classic games like Tetris may prevent flashbacks. Flashbacks, researchers continue, are often the trigger of other symptoms, including anger, poor concentration, irritability, and insomnia. People working to treat PTSD and military sexual trauma add that they are not trying to be “trivializing,” according to LiveScience. “Hand washing was once laughed at, too [as a means of eliminating germs and disease],” lead researcher Emily Holmes reminds those who are skeptical.

Virtual Reality As a Proactive Approach

Developers are working on programs that immerse soldiers and veterans in realistic combat situations, complete with “smells of cordite, burning gasoline and scorched flesh wafting from hidden air vents,” according to NBC. “We try to create an environment where someone feels the stress, and give them the tools to emotionally cope with it,” psychologist Skip Rizzo said. “Being in such an environment, we believe, can activate emotions that sometimes are repressed.” Psychologists also believe that virtual reality immersion therapy may better prepare soldiers in training for war — and preemptively reduce the development of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Whether it’s by playing Tetris and immersing themselves in war-like conditions or more traditional talk therapy, all soldiers and vets deserve adequate and thorough treatment for military trauma. Talk to veterans lawyers if you believe you are eligible for greater psychological attention or treatment.
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