Computer Games in Combat Training as Part of PTSD Prevention

By the end of 2016 all Israeli Infantry soldiers will play a specially designed computer game whose aim is to prevent them developing PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

The game is designed to train soldiers not to block out details of a traumatic event, considered one of the causes of PTSD. The US military is also considering the game.

The wider roll-out of the game to Israeli soldiers is due to the success of a trial, although it is not the first time a computer game has shown promise in tackling PTSD. A 2015 study showed promise with the classic computer game … Tetris.

The new game is based on work by Colin MacLeod, of the University of Western Australia, and simplistically confronts soldiers with two images (one ‘threatening’ picture and one ‘neutral’ picture).

In 2012, Bar-Haim teamed up with the Israeli Defence Force’s Medical Corps, the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and the US National Institutes of Health. As part of an advanced training programme, 700+ Israeli soldiers played  the game in four, 10 minute sessions. These same soldiers where involved in the Israeli-Gaza conflict in July 2014. In November 2014, the soldiers PTSD symptoms were measured. Of the game players only 2.6% developed PTSD compared with 7.6 % of their peers.

References

Carmeli, O. (2016) Brain Training for Troops. New Scientist. 23 July 2016, pp.20.

Wald, I., Fruchter, E., Ginat, K., Stolin, E., Dagan, D., Bliese, P.D., Quartana, P.J., Sipos, M.L., Pine, D.S. & Bar-Haim, Y. (2016) Selective Prevention of Combat-related Post-traumatic Stress Disorder using Attention Bias Modification Training: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Psychological Medicine. 46(12), 2627-2636. doi.org/bmk6.

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