Fine Motor Skills

How the OTvest can be Used to Improve Fine Motor Skills

The OTvest™ is a denim weighted vest that feels like a stabilizing hug. It’s a simple intervention that can do so much!

Wearing the OTvest weighted vest can help those who struggle with fine motor skills such as:

  • Handwriting
  • Keyboarding
  • Drinking from a cup or holding a spoon
  • Combing one’s hair or brushing teeth
  • Buttoning or fastening one's clothes
  • Coloring, cutting with scissors
  • Preparing a meal
  • Gardening or working with tools
  • Putting a puzzle together

The OTvest applies deep pressure therapy to the upper back and chest of the wearer, directly on the muscle fibers in the body. This deep pressure can stimulate the brain to produce neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, affecting our sense of calmness, focus, and sense of well-being, as well as increasing attention-to-task.OTvest-Anxiety-boy_doing_homework

Unlike a weighted blanket, compression vest, or other weighted vests on the market, the OTvest improves trunk stability due to the patented steel plate placement within the weighted vest. This deep pressure, which is applied directly to the muscle fibers in the upper back and shoulders, reduces tremors and stabilizes the trunk for increased distal (hand) coordination and control.

Persons with movement disorders such as Parkinson's disease, dystonia, cerebellar ataxia, multiple sclerosis, athetoid cerebral palsy, and intention tremors, can often see improved fine motor and upper extremity function when wearing an OTvest. The pressure applied on the scapula stabilizes upper extremity movement, as well as stabilizes the shoulder-girdle that helps improve hand coordination. The reduction of tremors can make activities such as drinking from a cup, feeding oneself, or keyboarding much easier. Because of this, the OTvest™ can be used to help gently, naturally treat Parkinson's, dystonia, and other movement disorders by increasing trunk stability and reducing tremors.

OTvest-Mother_Helping_sonOccupational therapists have reported that wearers of the OTvest weighted vest have shown almost total elimination of tremors. The biggest improvements have been seen in daily living skills, such as being able to hold a cup of coffee without spilling, keyboarding and typing, and zipping and buttoning clothing.

For those looking to improve fine motor skills, coordination, and control, other weighted vests can be challenging to wear because of the buttons or zippers used to don the weighted vest. But the OTvest has snaps for easy closure for those who struggle with zippers and buttons.

Lack of visual attention-to-task can also impair motor function, accuracy, and productivity. This is often seen in those with ADHD or sensory processing disorders.

Handwriting can be a particular struggle for those with ADHD or sensory processing disorders. Staying within the lines of ruled paper, forming the “points of juncture” necessary to create letters, and the visual attention and fine motor skill needed to “cross the t’s and dot the i’s” requires an extreme amount of visual attention-to-task and motor coordination.

However, wearing a weighted vest such as the OTvest, provides deep pressure touch therapy that is designed to calm, focus, and organize behavior that specifically helps improve handwriting and the attention needed for other fine motor tasks. Because of this, the OTvest™ is a perfect way to help naturally treat ADHD, if fine motor skills are looking to be improved. The deep pressure from the OTvest™ provides proprioceptive input, which tells the body important information about the body’s position--so the wearer has a better sense of where the arm, elbow, hand, and fingers should be to perform fine motor tasks.

In the research published in The American Journal of Occupational Therapy by Nancy VandenBerg, OTR/L, the children with ADHD in the study showed an increase in attention-to-task while performing fine motor tasks such as cutting, drawing, and writing by 18-25% when wearing a weighted vest.

After publishing this research, Ms. VandenBerg realized that an important change in the design of the weighted vest was required. Using her experience with sensory integration treatment, Bobath and Neuro Developmental Treatment theory, as well as knowledge of the central nervous system, Ms. VandenBerg created the OTvest. Unlike other weighted vests, weighted blankets, or compression vests on the market, the OTvest provides deep pressure directly to the muscle receptors--a far more effective weight placement than other weighted vests. Other weighted vests have inner pockets filled with sand or pellets, that don’t put weight directly on the body of the wearer. However, by applying the weight directly upon the body of the wearer, as is done in the OTvest, less weight is needed.

After creating and patenting the OTvest, a first grade teacher excitedly showed Ms. VandenBerg a class assignment by a boy in her class, completed while wearing the OTvest. The first grade boy had finished a page for the first time--coloring within the lines of the triangles and geometric shapes for the math assignment, which he rarely, if ever, could do without wearing the OTvest™ weighted vest.

The first grade teacher said that the young child told her, "I feel like a brand new boy." Before, he had papers and pencils all over the floor around his desk, from being very unfocused and disorganized. He was so proud of himself as he could see the difference in his work. Not only did the weighted OTvest help him succeed in the assignment itself, but it gave him an unparalleled boost in self-esteem!

OTvest-planting_seedsThis is just one example of the improvement in classroom work seen in the school district where Ms. VandenBerg provided occupational therapy treatment—and in school districts across the country since 2002.

The OTvest can help wearers of all ages with improved focus, attention and motor stability necessary for daily activities—and improve self-esteem!

Experience the increase in attention, focus, and motor control by ordering the OTvest! click here

Look for the yellow "OTvest™" label on the chest pocket to make sure you are getting the genuine OTvest™. Others may look like the OTvest™ from the outside, but the weight placement is important. Only the OTvest™ has the patented weighted insert with weight lying directly upon the body. This makes the difference!


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. November/December 2001.

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.)