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Tetris: Preventing post-traumatic stress disorder after crashes

A lot of people expect to be banged up after a car accident, but not many expect to suffer from a much more insidious problem: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

However, doctors are slowly starting to recognize the fact that a serious car crash is highly stressful and traumatic for those involved -- to the point where it can cause the victim of the crash to begin to re-experience the trauma he or she felt during the accident over and over again.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is thought to exist in 25-33 percent of people who have survived a serious motor vehicle accident at least 30 days after the event. The PTSD is characterized by a number of features:

-- Intrusive thoughts (flashbacks) about the accident that occur while accident survivor is trying to focus on other things.

-- The inability to sleep because the victim is troubled by nightmares of the accident

-- Obsession and worry about why the accident occurred and if it might reoccur.

-- Heightened reflexes and generalized anxiety issues

-- A refusal to get into a situation that could cause a repeat event, even if that means not driving

A new study has given survivors of serious car accidents some hope that they can avoid PTSD by using a simple game with which many adults are already familiar: Tetris.

According to international researchers, playing the methodical Tetris within 6 hours of a serious car accident can reduce the likelihood that survivors will experience flashbacks a week later by as much as 62 percent!

Researchers think that the brain has to give the game a great deal of visual attention -- keeping the same area of the brain unable to form the long-term traumatic memories that haunt PTSD survivors.

What does this mean for now? Well, if you're trying to distract yourself from the memories of a horrible car accident, or you want to comfort and distract someone else from that sort of thing, get out a smartphone or a tablet and get the game going. If Tetris isn't your thing, it's possible that any other game that requires the same level of visual attention might work.

If you're the victim of a serious car crash, with or without PTSD, seek legal advice in order to make certain that you're fully compensated for your injuries.

Source: NESN.com, "Study Shows Playing 'Tetris' Can Alleviate Trauma After Car Accidents," Dakota Randall, April 11, 2017

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