Playing video games during lock down can help with mental health problems according to top neuroscientists. And it can help frontline healthcare workers deal with the traumatic scenes confronting them daily as they fight to keep COVID-19 patients alive.
Oxford based researchers have developed DISTRACTOR, which incorporates one of the most successful and recognisable puzzle video games, Tetris. DISTRACTOR provides daily reminders to play the game and allows tracking of a player’s anxiety symptoms to monitor their mental health.
Oxford University’s Department of Psychiatry studied the effects of trauma on patients and staff at Accident and Emergency units. Patients and medics in a position to play the Tetris game for 12 – 13 minutes within the first six hours suffered fewer trauma-related memories, said Professor Guy Goodwin.
The Tetris game requires players to strategically rotate, move, and drop a procession of coloured shapes — also known as Tetriminos — to clear complete horizontal lines and score points. This activity helps participants take their mind off their present situation at a critical time.
“National Health Service staff are fighting a frontline battle with COVID-19. They are witnessing some very distressing scenes and they are worried about their own safety and that of their families while they do their job,” said Dr Gerard Dawson.
“The original research carried out in Oxford encouraged us to incorporate DISTRACTOR into our mental health digital platform, i‑spero, providing a therapy which helps ease the effects of trauma.
Dr Dawson, whose digital healthcare company P1vital Products developed i‑spero, a patient friendly platform to support mental health and well-being, explained it was the result of major research in the UK and Europe.
“This is a major breakthrough in helping with mental health problems, especially at this time of lockdown when many feel isolated and helpless,” he said.
For more information about DISTRACTOR, please visit https://distractor.i‑spero.co.uk/
The Tetris® game requires players to strategically rotate, move, and drop a procession of coloured shapes — also known as Tetriminos — to clear complete horizontal lines and score points.
i‑spero was developed after extensive research in the UK and Europe and is currently used by GPs to diagnose and monitor the effect of treatment on common mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.
P1vital Products LTD developed DISTRACTOR which incorporates the Tetris game with their mental health platform, i‑spero, to allow participants to play Tetris and to monitor their ongoing mental health status.
Dr Gerard Dawson is an experimental psychologist whose research focuses on developing digital therapies to diagnose, manage and treat depression and anxiety.
Professor Guy Goodwin is a psychiatrist and former head of the University Department of Psychiatry in Oxford, where much of the original work on trauma distraction was conducted.
Dr Gerard Dawson and Professor Guy Goodwin are available for interviews.
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Tetris® & © 1985~2020 Tetris Holding, used with permission.
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