Stacey Reynolds, Shelly J. Lane, Brian Mullen; Effects of Deep Pressure Stimulation on Physiological Arousal. Am J Occup Ther 2015;69(3):6903350010. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2015.015560
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© 2020 American Occupational Therapy Association
Deep pressure stimulation has been used in therapeutic practice because of the assumption that it changes physiological arousal. The purpose of this study was to test the effects of deep pressure stimulation, applied with a Vayu Vest (Therapeutic Systems), on both autonomic arousal and performance in a normative adult sample. A repeated-measures, repeated-baseline design was used with participants completing a performance test before and after deep pressure application. A convenience sample of 50 adults participated in the study. Results showed that wearing the Vayu Vest for even short periods of time reduced sympathetic arousal and non–stimulus-driven electrical occurrences. Concomitant increases in parasympathetic arousal were found. Performance improvements were noted after wearing the Vayu Vest, potentially because of changes in arousal. We conclude that deep pressure stimulation is capable of eliciting changes in autonomic arousal and may be a useful modality in diagnostic groups seen by occupational therapy practitioners.
Deep pressure input may be an appropriate therapeutic modality to use with people with difficulty with arousal regulation and sensory modulation during or in preparation for functional tasks.
Deep pressure may be useful for reducing maladaptive internalizing and externalizing behaviors, increasing attention to task, and reducing impulsivity, all of which would support the client’s ability to successfully perform daily life activities and engage in appropriate social–emotional, motor, and organizational tasks.
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