Playing the video game Tetris following a difficult birth can prevent moms from developing post-traumatic stress, according to a new study.
Those who played the game for 15 minutes within six hours of an emergency cesarean had significantly fewer symptoms of PTSD six months later.
And doctors say the therapy could work for other victims of traumatic events.
Researchers from the University of Lausanne in Switzerland studied 146 women, half of whom were asked to play Tetris and half who were given a placebo activity.
The therapy works by engaging the ‘visuospatial’ region of the brain, the area that deals with vision and orientation in space.
By doing so, Tetris interferes with the memory consolidation of traumatic images which play a critical role in the development of PTSD.
As memory consolidation takes place within few hours, playing Tetris shortly after a difficult event may thereby prevent the development of PTSD.
The study, published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, is the first to prove the preventive effectiveness of such an intervention for traumatic childbirth.
First author Dr. Camille Deforges said: “We are very enthusiastic because the activity was carried out under the supervision of the midwives and nurses in the maternity units, showing that it can be integrated into routine care.
“What’s more, it’s short, inexpensive, and accessible to anyone, regardless of their native language. It therefore has real clinical potential.
“The results may have a significant impact not only on the prevention of PTSD after traumatic childbirth but also after other types of trauma.”
One in five women suffer stress following an emergency cesarean section and PTSD linked to childbirth is a common mental health disorder.
It manifests itself in the form of flashbacks and nightmares, irritability, difficulty sleeping, and hypervigilance about the baby.
These symptoms can seriously disrupt daily life and have repercussions for the whole family.
At present, prevention of childbirth-related PTSD is challenging due to the lack of scientifically validated treatments.
The study was conducted in a rigorous manner using a randomized, controlled, double-blind protocol, reinforcing the reliability and robustness of the results.
It thereby represents a major advance in mental health care after difficult childbirth and, more generally, after any traumatic event.
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
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