How Tetris Helps My Mom Battle Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple Sclerosis can wreak havoc on your fine motor skills. My Mom would know, as she's been battling MS for over 20 years. To fight back, my Mom has been using Tetris to stay sharp.
A lot of people use Tetris as a way to kick back and relax. There's something sort of hypnotic about the way the Tetriminos fall that you end up getting into a groove while you play. It can wash away the day’s troubles and help you clear your mind. I know I've done this with Tetris a number of times! Kick the difficulty down to an easy level and simply drop the Tetriminos as they come.
My Mom has used Tetris in the same way over the years. When she's feeling a bit worn down, she fires up Tetris and let's her worries fade away. The thing is, there's another reason why my Mom puts in so much time with Tetris. While she is indeed a huge fan of Tetris, she turns to the game to help her with a medical condition she's been struggling with for 20+ years now.
In short, Tetris has become an invaluable tool in her battle against Multiple Sclerosis (MS). I'll never forget the day I found out my Mom had MS. My family is almost always goofing off and laughing. When my sister and I were sat down for a serious conversation, we both knew something big was going down.
That's exactly what happened one Saturday morning. We were happily watching some Saturday morning cartoons when we were asked to turn the TV off and come into the family room for a chat. Shortly thereafter, we were hit with the news of my Mom's health. Seeing as I was back in middle school, I didn't know much about MS. As the weeks rolled on, I quickly became an authority on the topic.
Multiple Sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system which disrupts the flow of information within the brain. This can cause all sorts of trouble, from issues with speech, inability to control muscles, and much more. To be honest, it's a pretty scary disease. One day you could be feeling fine, and the next you'd find yourself trapped in your own body, unable to move or properly speak.
There was a silver lining to my Mom's diagnosis. She found out she had the Relapsing-Remitting version of MS, which is about as good as it gets. It's the least aggressive form of the disease, and with medication and the right exercises, you can lessen the issues it causes.
Photo Credit: ©Sega
Now all my Mom had to do was learn what measures she could take to ensure MS wouldn't take over her life. One point my Mom's doctor kept driving home was the importance of fine motor skills. Once you start to lose those, the rest can fall like dominoes. Her doctor suggested all sorts of ways to fight off fine motor skill issues, including activities like knitting and drawing.
Since my Mom was already an avid gamer, she asked the doctor if playing video games could help. He said it would be an absolutely perfect fit! That's all my Mom needed to hear, as she knew her go-to game for help was going to be Tetris. My Mom was already playing a ton of Tetris before her diagnosis. Having learned of her condition, she made it a point to sit down for regular Tetris sessions whenever she could.
Whether she was playing solo or going up against my sister and me, she was determined to keep her fingers moving and brain firing on all cylinders. On top of all this, playing Tetris is a lot of fun! There's no better medicine for the soul than laughing and smiling, and playing Tetris was a great way for her to experience those highs.
My Mom continues her Tetris regimen to this day and plays Puyo Puyo Tetris on the Nintendo Switch all the time! She is such a hardcore fan that she downloaded the Japanese demo before the game was available in North America! All this time with Tetris has made her quite the formidable opponent in the game. The thing is, even after 20+ years of playing Tetris, she still can't get enough.
There's no doubt her time with Tetris has been fantastic for keeping her fingers working in tip-top shape. My Mom certainly has her bad days when it comes to walking and balance, and sometimes has issues with a word here or there, but her doctor is thoroughly impressed with how well she's doing after all this time.
That's all she needs to hear to keep up her Tetris routine. Well that, and the fits of laughter she has when she manages to wipe me out in multiplayer!