The OTvest is a Holistic Intervention to Help Increase Attention for those with ADHD that is Research Backed.

When we feel better, we do better -- and that is exactly what happens in those wearing the OTvest™!

Think of someone pressing gently but firmly down on your upper back and shoulders. Not only does it feel good, but it has a naturally calming effect. When we see other people that are anxious or over-stimulated, we instinctively do this movement, maybe even reminding them to “calm down,” as we do so. The OTvest™ is a weighted vest that simulates this feeling through deep pressure touch therapy, and can be administered throughout the day, inexpensively, discreetly, and without the help of another person. Persons putting the OTvest™ on for the first time almost always spontaneously say “It feels good!”

How can the OTvest™ treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)? With science!OTvest-adhd-tired_mom_of_hyperactive_boy

“Runner’s High” is a common “natural high” felt by runners due to the increase in dopamine in the brain from cardiovascular activity. Similarly, deep pressure therapy and touch stimulation changes the chemistry in our brains, creating a calming, focusing effect. The OTvest™ causes the brain to produce an influx of norepinephrine, epinephrine, and serotonin through the use of distributed weights across the upper back and chest. This allows OTvest™ wearers to feel more in control and centered, naturally -- even in the classroom. The OTvest™, therefore, acts as a perfect classroom intervention for ADHD. Unlike other compression vests, weighted blankets, or weighted vests on the market, the OTvest™ is discreet. It can be worn when the family eats out, during homework sessions, church, or even to help calm the wearer during the sensory overload of haircuts. Adults can wear the OTvest™ in all social, work, or academic settings, as well.

Children with ADHD have been found to have high levels of hyperactivity related to lower levels of serotonin in their blood (Gainetdinov et al., 1999; Taylor, 1994). Deep pressure, such as that applied from a weighted vest like the OTvest™, may stimulate the increase in serotonin, as well as other neurotransmitters, to create a natural calming effect on the central nervous system. The OTvest™, therefore, serves as a perfect holistic treatment for those with ADHD.OTvest-adhd-boy_doing_homework

Nancy VandenBerg, an occupational therapist since 1975 and creator of the OTvest™, observed that 1 out of 10 children in a school where she provided OT services were going to the office for “attention medication”. She did a research study within the school system to determine if there was an alternative method to improve the attention of the students. The results were published in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy (VandenBerg, 2001). The children in the study were diagnosed as having attention difficulties in school, and required a classroom intervention for ADHD, autism, and other distracting behaviors. They were timed both while wearing a weighted vest, not wearing a weighted vest, and while engaging in the same activity to measure their attention-to-task.

The children in the study showed an 18-25% increase in their attention when wearing a weighted vest (weight of 5% of the wearer’s body weight) compared to not wearing one. The study showed a 95% statistical probability that the increase was due to the weighted vest. These exciting results prompted Ms. VandenBerg to design a “better” weighted vest—the OTvest™—where the weight was positioned to lie directly upon the body of those wearing it. Other weighted vests, weighted blankets, and compression vests available simply line the pockets with pellets or sand. These weights are pulled down by gravity, and aren’t as effective at producing deep pressure touch therapy as the OTvest™ is. The OTvest™ utilizes dense steel plates that are designed to lie directly on the muscle receptors of the wearer. This way, the OTvest™ applies calming deep pressure touch therapy directly to the body of the wearer, where it can have the most effective impact on the sensory receptors in the body.

The OTvest™ weighted vest can provide deep, sustained pressure using less weight than other weighted vests because of the flat, dense, steel plates used in the OTvest™. These steel plates are placed directly upon the body, and aren’t merely hung in pockets or hems, as is the case in many other weighted vests or weighted blankets on the market. This allows the weight to effectively apply deep pressure, even when the wearer is sitting down.

Using the law of physics — that less weight is needed when pressing down rather than pulling down — the weight of the OTvest™ pushes gently down evenly across the upper body. This application of the law of physics and effective positioning of the weight inside the OTvest™ allows less weight use for the OTvest™ to be effective.OTvest-adhd-Mother_looking_at_kids_in_back_seat

The benefit of the OTvest™ is that this weighted vest can provide deep, sustained pressure for extended periods of time. Current school-based occupational therapy practice in the United States often incorporates the use of weighted vests to increase children’s attention to school-based tasks. This means that the OTvest™ is a perfect classroom intervention for ADHD, classroom intervention for autism, and a perfect classroom intervention for those with related conditions, who need help with increasing focus and attention in the classroom.

Psychiatric facilities, autism centers, specialized treatment programs, and parents across the country and internationally have been ordering the OTvest™ since 2002 for the purpose of calming, modulating the arousal level, and increasing attention to purposeful activity for those with ADHD.

  • The weights in the OTvest™ apply calming deep pressure therapy directly to the body of the wearer, to naturally stimulate the production of calming, focusing neurotransmitters in the brain, including serotonin, without additional medication
  • The OTvest™ requires less weight than other compression vests or weighted vests on the market that only hang weights inside of pockets
  • The OTvest™ contains dense steel weights, rather than glass beads, bulky sand or steel pellets that fall through seams, as is found in other weighted vests
  • The OTvest™ uses the effective use of physics -- less weight is needed when pushing down directly upon the body, as is the case with the OTvest™, than when the weights are pulling down, as is the case with other weighted vests
  • The weights in the OTvest™ lie across the upper back and chest, so that they do not end up resting on the chair when the wearer sits down
  • The OTvest™ simplifies weighted vest design by eliminating weight packet clutter, as the weights are quilted into a one-piece insert, calibrated for the weight and size of the wearer
  • No weights to fall out, get lost, or played with
  • The OTvest™ is stylish and lasts many, many years of daily wear

The OTvest™, weighted vest provides sustained deep pressure therapy to help those with ADHD feel better and do better.


Gainetdinov, R. R., Wetsel, W. C., Jones, S. R., Levin, E. D., Jaber, M., & Caron, M. G. (1999, January 15). Role of serotonin in the para- doxical calming effect of psychostimulants on hyperactivity. Science, 283, 397–401.

Taylor, J. F. (1994). Helping your hyperactive/attention deficit child. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing.

Temple Grandin, Ph.D (1992), Calming effects of deep touch pressure in patients with autistic disorder, college students, and animals, Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology. Vol. 2,1.

VandenBerg, N., (2001). The use of weighted vests to increase on-task behavior in children with attention difficulties, American Journal of Occupational Therapy, Vol. 55, 621-628. doi:10.5014/ajot.55.6.621

This research is also in the book, Pediatric Issues in Occupational Therapy: A Compendium of Leading Scholarship (Royeen, 2004) published by AOTA (N. VandenBerg, Chapter 25.)