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The Benefits of Therapeutic Weighted Vests

Authored by Debra Cornelius in Health
Published on 08-11-2009

Therapeutic weighted vests are designed to provide soothing deep pressure often described as a hug-like sensation. Therapeutic vests are used in occupational therapy when dealing with individuals who have trouble processing sensory stimuli. Individuals who benefit from therapeutic weighted vests include children with ADHA, autism and other mental disorders. Therapeutic weighted items have been in use in hospitals and acute care settings, but the use of therapeutic weighted vests gives caregivers at home options to use in day to day situations.

Therapeutic weighted vests and deep pressure touch stimulation. (DPTS)

The greatest benefit of using therapeutic weighted vests is that they provide constant deep pressure touch stimulation (DPTS). Occupational therapists have found DPTS to assist individuals to increase attention span, reduce anxiety and provide alternative stimulation in situations where the individual may be overwhelmed and stressed. Deep pressure touch stimulation has been limited to occupation therapy visits. With the use of the therapeutic weighted vest, this option is available outside formal occupational therapy treatment times.

The benefits of a therapeutic weight vest are varied.
Benefits of therapeutic weighted vests vary among individuals. Most recommendations are for a weighted vest to be 5-10% of an individual’s body weight. An occupational therapist can give recommendations as to what weight the vest should be. They can also help evaluate the individual benefits.


Wearing the therapeutic weighted vest promotes body awareness.

Preliminary research suggests that the use of therapeutic weighted vests may decrease the risk of falling among older individuals with balance problems.

When used with children with sensory perception disorders, there has been significant reports of increased awareness, increased attention to tasks, less hyperactivity and an improvement to levels of irritability and anxiety.

Therapeutic weighted vests are adjusted in weights according to the age, physical abilities and needs of the individual and can be customized so as not to draw attention to the wearer. This makes it possible to wear the therapeutic weighted vest in public situations where the benefits are most likely to be needed.

With the ability to customize the therapeutic weighted vest, the unwanted attention other weighted devices may bring is avoided. The therapeutic weighted vest can be customized using nearly any type and style of vest that provides a liner. Because the weights are concealed, it is not apparent to anyone that the vest is a therapeutic option.

The therapeutic weighted vests are easy to take off and on and don’t hinder movement. There are some concerns that using the vest for an extended period of time may lessen its effectiveness. The individual can become accustomed to it and adapt to the stimulation. This is easily overcome by using the vest during periods of time when the benefits are most needed. Since individuals respond differently in situations and even to similar situations on different days, the caregiver can use their judgment to provide the vest for use at the most needed times.

For numerous children and adults suffering from sensory processing disorders or sensory integration disorders, the benefits of a therapeutic weighted vest are being shown to offer therapeutic benefits that caregivers are able to use in real time and places on a daily basis.

Resources:

  • Weighted vest exercise improves indices of fall risk in older women. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 1998 Jan;53(1):M53-8. 

    PMID: 9467434 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

  • Therapeutic Vest Will Help Children With Autism, ADHD, Anxiety. ScienceDaily.com

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