During recent years, many research projects have been carried out to examine the use of the weighted vest. Research shows that most individuals do benefit from wearing a weighted vest at least some of the time. Although there is no conclusive evidence for using weighted equipment that has been measurable in research projects, it is reported that many research participants elect to continue using weighted equipment after investigative projects finish.
Subjective responses are invariably positive and report benefits in calming, improved attention and ability to stay on task. Every child is indeed different and it is not possible to guarantee positive outcomes for all, but having weighted equipment as part of your range of strategies is likely to be a helpful option.
Why use weighted resources?
To provide deep pressure and proprioceptive feedback. The weight applies a firm, gentle pressure to the body which can improve the individual’s unconscious sense of where their body is (body awareness) and can also provide calming. The sensation is difficult to describe if you have not used the equipment. Imagine enjoying a big tight hug or laying under heavy bed clothes and experiencing the pleasant sensation these bring. Messages are sent to the brain saying ‘all is well’ and ‘nothing to be worried about’ – and it appears to counterbalance anxious feelings, agitation and restlessness.
Who will benefit?
- are anxious or over stimulated by their environment
- find it difficult to concentrate and stay on task and are easily distracted
- have a specific anxiety about a situation
- have difficulty sleeping need help to calm their bodies down to sit and listen
How should weighted equipment be used?
Safety and careful monitoring is a priority and it is advised that weighted equipment should be no more than 5 -10% of the child’s body weight.
Please be aware that:
If a child is experiencing anxiety or is over stimulated by their environment to the extent that their functional performance is affected, they should see a Paediatrician who may recommend assessment by a paediatric occupational therapist who has post graduate training in sensory integration.