Occupational Therapy Sensory Integration Interventions Part 2. Stephanie M. L. Potts, MOTR/L. Weighted Vest.
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Weighted vests can provide deep, sustained pressure. Research has shown that the application of deep pressure can be calming for a child, decreasing purposeless hyperactivity, and increase functional attention to purposeful activities (VandenBerg, 2001, p 622).
If it is determined that a student can benefit from a weighted vest by the occupational therapist the following steps are taken:
1. The child is measured for the appropriate size vest.
2. The student is weighted to determine the appropriate amount of weighted needed in vest.
3. A consent form is sent home to the parent explaining that a weighted vest is suggested, the weight amount that the student will be wearing, and evidence based literature that supports the use of weighted vests.
4. The vest is weighted based on 4-7% of the child’s overall weight.
5. A weighted vest is never applied until parent consent is received back.
A study conducted by VandenBerg (2001) concluded that on-task behavior increased by “18%- 25% when wearing a weighted vest” (p 625).
Occupational therapists who were interviewed during a study regarding perceived affects of weighted vests concluded that they were effective for “increasing the following behaviors: staying on task, staying in seat, and attention span” (Olson & Moulton, 2004a, p 59).
Research shows that the Wilbarger brushing protocol can be affective for children with sensory defensiveness.
A research study done by Pfeiffer, Kinnealey, Reed, and Herzberg (2005) declared, “individuals with sensory defensiveness, social interactions, and environments over which they have no control may make the person feel uncomfortable or distressed and lead to avoidant behaviors” (p 342).
Wilbarger brushing protocol can implemented within the classroom by a teacher, it should also be taken into consideration that the Wilbarger brushing protocol is not utilized by itself but rather, “it should be used in conjunction with other interventions such as a sensory diet” (Davich, 2009, p 16.
Implementation of Sensory Integrative Interventions in the classroom by the teacher, as directed by the occupational therapist can significantly help students within the classroom to maintain attention and focus on academic related work.
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Futrell, M. (2006, October). Neuromuscular Control, Proprioception and Balance. Retrieved from http://www.cofc.edu/~futrellm/nmcontrol.html
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National Institute of Health. (2012, February). Balance Disorders. Retrieved from http://www.meei.harvard.edu/patient/balancedisorders.php
Olson, L. & Moulton, H. (2004a). Use of weighted vests in pediatric occupational therapy practice. Physical & Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics, 24(3), 45-60.
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VandenBerg, N.L. (2001). The use of a weighted vest to increase on-task behavior in children with attention difficulties. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 55, 621-628.