How Does a Weighted Blanket Work?
Weight Therapy and
Weighted Blanket Benefits
How Your Weight On Me Weighted Blanket Works
Patients with extreme anxiety caused by autism, sensory processing disorder and other conditions can be difficult to soothe and calm. Dr. Temple Grandin (who is autistic, and who was looking into ways to treat her own anxiety) uncovered the benefits of pressure as a way to calm an overstimulated and frazzled nervous system. Dr. Grandin created a squeeze machine for herself, researchers and clinicians have adapted the idea into weighted blankets. The principal idea is that firm pressure on the body for an extended period can calm the mind. Research has found that deep pressure touch stimulation releases serotonin, a chemical in the brain that works as a neurotransmitter in the regulation of mood, sleep and sensory perception. Weighted blankets mimic deep pressure touch stimulation and thus have a calming and soothing effect. Sensory processing disorders generally accompany other conditions and many that appear on the autism spectrum. The sensory disorders cause children to seek sensory stimulation or to "stim," which is characterized by such actions as flapping the arms or, in severe cases, self-injurious behaviors. A weighted blanket counteracts this need for sensory stimulation. The pressure that the blanket puts on the child's body meets the child's need for physical sensation and simultaneously calms the child down.
Parents of special-needs children, know how difficult it can be to calm them when they are upset or frightened. Most parents or caretakers of these children learn their child’s signs and tics and know when the child needs soothing. Weighted blankets are one relatively effective calming tool, especially to help your child sleep. These blankets have small weights sewn into them so the weight is evenly distributed. The blanket acts as a kind of pressure therapy to release serotonin and help the child calm down.
Weighted blankets are also very helpful in adults. The have been shown to help significantly with anxiety, dementia, and especially with the trauma and sleep issues that accompany PTSD. Weight On Me Blankets are currently being used on soldiers in the field in our War Zones overseas, as well as on soldiers that have returned and are trying to recover. Pressure therapy is also very beneficial for Chronic Pain conditions including Fibromyalgia and patients undergoing treatment for various conditions including cancer. In addition, these blankets have helped people with the following conditions, Tourette’s Syndrome, Seizure Disorder, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Pain, Bi-Polar Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome, Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), Schizophrenia, Cerebral Palsy (CP), Azheimer’s Disease, Pervasive Developmental Disorder, (PDD, PDD-NOS), Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, (FASD), Dementia, ADHD, ADD, Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), Downs Syndrome, Rett’s Syndrome, Insomnia, Parkinson’s Disease,Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), William’s Syndrome, Batton’s Disease, Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), Charge Syndrome, Shift-Work Sleep issues, and so many other Conditions.
Generally, the weight of the blanket should be equal to 10 percent of a person's body weight plus one pound. From there, weight can be added or subtracted based on personal preferences.
How to Use a Weight on Me Weighted Blanket
Weighted blankets can be used at bedtime to induce sleep and left on overnight or for as long as the user wants or needs. If the blanket is used for a calming effect, it can stay on as long as needed. There are no ill effects of leaving a weighted blanket on for long periods of time, and the benefits are wonderful. Many people compare them to receiving a big hug. You receive a wonderful sense of security and calm.
Instructions on How to Use your Weighted Blanket
1 Select a weighted blanket that weighs 10 percent of the user's body weight plus one pound, or use your Doctor, Occupational or Physical therapist’s recommendation. Blankets need to give consistent and thorough pressure without immobilizing or harming the user, and allow the user to be able to move freely.
2 Explain the weighted blanket to a first time user. Although the pressure created by the blanket is therapeutic, it can create alarm and a fear of being trapped or suffocated if the user is surprised by the weight. Remember Weight On Me Blankets are made with your safety in mind. We use only 100% Natural Cotton Fabrics and no synthetic materials, making them the safest blanket possible. Cotton is the coolest fabric to avoid overheating, and it is also the most breathable fabric. This ensures that if a younger child or pet were to become trapped underneath a blanket, that it would be the safest option for suffocation risk.
3 Lay the blanket over the user's body from neck to feet if the user is sleeping or laying down. Do not use a Weighted Blanket over any user’s head or face. A general weight or pressure all over the body will produce the most pronounced results. Essentially, the blanket should envelope the user in a full-body "hug." The full-body approach is best for calming agitated episodes, however it can be used to help people get better sleep and as a preventative technique.
4 Place the weighted blanket firmly over shoulders like a shawl or poncho, or lay it across the lap and legs for non-restrictive preventative therapy. These positions allow users to engage in activities while still benefiting from weighted pressure. Some therapists recommend children with sensory processing disorder wear a weighted blanket on their laps and legs while seated at their school desks as a way to get more therapeutic pressure into their daily routines.
Tips & Warnings
Do not leave someone with a weighted blanket unattended for the first several uses. Make sure they are comfortable with the blanket and are
capable of removing it themselves. The blanket should never restrain movement. Do not swaddle or force one to use a weighted blanket. The blanket should be provided to them and used at their will. Do not cover users face or head with the weighted blanket. Inspect blankets each time for rips/tears and escaped pellets. If damage is noted, discontinue use immediately until a repair/replacement can be made. Poly Pellets are non-toxic and hypo-allergenic, however with any non-edible item, should not be ingested.
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