Visuospatial game in PTSD symptoms alleviation: intervention overview and clinical studies results
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Czernecka, K. (2023). Visuospatial game in PTSD symptoms alleviation: intervention overview and clinical studies results. Kwartalnik Naukowy Fides Et Ratio, 55(3), 193-201.
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The aim of this article is to present the possibility of using the puzzle game Tetris as an aid in treating people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This intervention was first proposed Holmes and her team (2009), who postulate its high effectiveness, especially when alleviating one of hallmark symptoms of PTSD – intrusions. It was assumed that the visuospatial nature of the game would interfere with the formation of the perceptual and sensory memory trace of the traumatic event, as both processes compete for a limited pool of visual working memory resources. In principle, this should translate into a reduced number of intrusions and the intensity of symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, while not damaging the volitional, verbal memory of the event itself. The effectiveness of the intervention has been confirmed by the team in laboratory setting using real-life trauma analogues (trauma film paradigm). This paper discusses the results of studies involving clinical groups, testing the effectiveness of the intervention, and thus the validity of the proposal itself. In each of the studies cited, after memory reactivation, people who experienced an actual trauma and/or had a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder were asked to play Tetris for a short time (approx. 15-20 minutes). The number of intrusions occurring in the following days was tracked along with, in some cases, other indicators of psychological well-being. Regardless of the type of traumatic event, the time elapsed since it occurred, and the protocol used, each of the cited studies reported a reduction in the number of intrusions and a corresponding decrease in the severity of PTSD symptoms. The intervention turned out to be easy to use, universally effective and not interfering with other therapeutic approaches, therefore making it a valuable and noteworthy addition to treatment programs for people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, leading to an improvement of their mental health and general functioning.
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