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What is a weighted vest, and why are they helpful?

Posted by [email protected] on July 28, 2012 at 4:50 PM

What is a weighted vest, and why are they helpful?

Weighted vests are a type of therapy garment that goes over clothing with adustable closures for a precise fit.  They are designed to calm the sensory system and provide a deep-pressure, proprioceptive "hug".  The size and weight in a vest or blanket varies from person to person, and is usually between 5-8% of the person's total weight.

Some weighted vests are made with child focused fabrics with bright designs or are made to go under clothing.  Vests made with fabrics that are busy may be appealing to the wearer, but may decrease the purpose of the vest-to calm them down.  The vests that can be worn under clothes also may be appealing because they are concealed under clothing--the challenge with these types of vests is that the clothes would need to be removed in order to remove the vest.  Because vests are worn only during intervals throughout the day, that would make the vest harder to use if the clothes are required to be put on and removed everytime the vest needs to be moved.  

Weighted items such as vests and blankets are particularly helpful for individuals who have difficulties with processing sensory information.  These individuals include those who have, but are not limited to, autism, sensory processing disorder, ADD, ADHD, and anyone who has trouble with sensory overload.  The weight in the vest or blanket can calm the wearer and increase their ability to concentrate, increases attention span, and may decrease behaviors that interfere with everyday activities.  This includes sensitivity to loud noises, textures, and self-injuring behaviors.  

Here is a link that offers more information about the benefits of wearing weighted items: http://www.livestrong.com/article/339661-what-are-the-benefits-of-a-sensory-integration-weighted-vest/

DISCLAIMER: Though many individuals have shown great progress and benefit with wearing a weighted vest or using a weighted blanket, they do not work for everyone.  The decision to use a weighted product is best made with a therapist, such as an occupational therapist and would be best used in conjunction with a therapy program.  

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