The OTvest™ Weighted Vest Provides Calming, Focusing, Behavior Organizing Deep Pressure Therapy to help Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and PTSD
The OTvest™ denim weighted vest can be used as a treatment for anxiety, stress, and agitation due to the calming effects of the deep pressure applied to the upper body. The OTvest™ is a simple, non-invasive, natural intervention option for those looking for relief from anxiety, traumatic brain injury (TBI), PTSD, and other stressful conditions!
Think of someone pressing gently but firmly down on your upper back and shoulders. It feels good, and has a wonderfully calming effect. When we see others that are anxious or overstimulated, we instinctively do this motion, perhaps even encouraging them to “calm down” as we do so. This soothing, deep pressure is similar to what the weighted OTvest™ provides the wearer through the patented weight insert hidden inside. By wearing the OTvest™, the calming, deep pressure can be administered throughout the day, discreetly, and inexpensively, without the help of another individual. Persons putting the OTvest™ on for the first time almost always spontaneously say, "It feels good!"
“Deep touch pressure is the type of surface pressure that is exerted in most types of firm touching, hugging, stroking, petting of animals, or in swaddling infants. In contrast, light touch pressure is a more superficial stimulation of the skin, such as tickling; very light touch, or moving hairs on the skin. In animals, the tickle of a fly landing on the skin may cause a cow to kick, but the firm touch of the farmer's hands quiets her. Occupational therapists have observed that a very light touch alerts the nervous system, but deep pressure is relaxing and calming” (McNett, Sarver, & Wilczewski, 2012).
Unlike other weighted vests or compression vests on the market, the OTvest™ can provide deep, sustained pressure using less weight than other weighted vests or compression vests. This is because the OTvest™ contains dense, steel plates, compared to the bulky sand or pellets found in other weighted vests. Not only this, but the placement of the weight is sitting directly upon the body -- not hanging loosely in pockets as is the case in other weighted vests. This sustained deep pressure can create a sense of well-being, increasing focus and function, promoting better sleep, and decreasing anxiety, stress and agitation. The OTvest™ also improves balance and awareness of the body in space. In many cases, this helps decrease the accompanying anxiety that the lack of feeling “grounded” produces. This lack of groundedness can contribute to the feeling of confusion seen in Alzeheimer’s, PTSD, and TBI.
Using a compression vest or weighted vest such as the OTvest™, can address problems with inattention, stress, anxiety, restlessness, or agitation (TBI, PTSD, or Alzheimer’s), as well as sleep disorders such as insomnia. In these instances, medication may still be necessary when recommended by a physician, but often at a lower dose when the OTvest™ is used in conjunction with medication. Many physicians are recommending the use of the OTvest™ to supplement the treatment of conditions, such as insomnia or narcolepsy; in fact, many patients find that they can discontinue use of their medications due to the increased relaxation experienced from the OTvest™.
Unlike a weighted blanket, the OTvest™ can be worn throughout the day, during any normal daily activity. The wearer can often determine the schedule that seems most beneficial to them. Some people feel like they want to wear it all day, while others prefer wearing the OTvest™ weighted vest in increments of 30-60 minutes.
The OTvest™ is also appropriate for mental health settings where improving patients’ sleep, reducing restraints, seclusion, stress, anxiety, and agitation, are goals. If lack of attention is a problem, the OTvest™ can help by applying deep pressure touch therapy to improve focus and organization in the wearer. The OTvest™ is appropriate for wearing in group therapy settings, while dining, and throughout the day. One of the key benefits of utilizing an OTvest™ weighted vest is that it does not have to be limited to only be used in a “sensory room.” Unlike a weighted blanket, the OTvest™ is a self-calming intervention that can be utilized anywhere, and can be continued when the patient moves back into the community. Another benefit of the OTvest™is that it can be easily cleaned and disinfected, when other weighted vests, compression vests, and weighted blankets cannot. The weight insert can be completely disinfected by simple wiping down between users, and the denim vest laundered. And unlike a weighted blanket or compression vest, it does not absorb perspiration.
Just as we hear runners say that running gives them a “natural high” because of the increase in dopamine in the brain, deep pressure changes the chemistry in our brains and can create a calming, focusing effect. The OTvest™ is a noninvasive, holistic treatment approach to promote a sense of well-being.
Stress, anxiety, agitation and sleep deprivation are often seen in post traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer's, and in movement disorders. Behavior deficits have been shown to occur in up to 70% of clients hospitalized with TBI (McNett, Sarver, & Wilczeski, 2012). This study also reported that the most common behaviors associated with agitation include impulsiveness, restlessness, and a decreased attention span. These behaviors have shown to be a substantial obstacle to participation in the inpatient rehabilitation process, attaining goals, and achieving functional independence (Lequerica et al, 2007). Patient goals for rehabilitation can include initiatives designed to gradually increase his attention span and reduce restless behaviors (Morro & Farley, 2016).
Why do weighted vests like the OTvest™ have this calming effect? Deep pressure is registered in the limbic system, hippocampus, and reticular activating system, and may stimulate production of neurotransmitters to modulate arousal levels, similar to the effects of medications. The use of the OTvest™ applies this deep pressure in a holistic, non-invasive and easily applied, discreet manner, making it one of the best ways to help naturally treat anxiety, stress, agitation, and related conditions.
For more detailed information of the science behind how deep pressure therapy affects the brain, refer to this manuscript, published in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy.
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!
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Grandin, T. (1992). Calming effects of deep touch pressure in patients with autistic disorder, college students, and animals, Journal of Child And Adolescent Psychopharmacology, Vol. 2, no. 1.
Lequerica, A., Rapport, L., Loeher, M., Axelrod, B., Vangel, S., & Hanks, R. (2007). Agitation in acquired brain injury: Impact on acute rehabilitation therapies. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, 22, 177-183.
McNett, M., Sarver, W., & Wilczewski, P. (2012). The prevalence, treatment and outcomes of agitation among patients with brain injury admitted to acute care units. Brain Injury, 26, 1155-1162.
Morro, K., Farley, J. (2016). Brain Injury in an Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility: Occupational Therapist's Role in Interdisciplinary Approach to Behavior Management. OT Practice, June 6, 2016, 15-18.
VandenBerg, N., (2001). American Journal of Occupational Therapy, November/December 2001, Vol. 55, 621-628. doi:10.5014/ajot.55.6.621