Stephanie Pappas is a Live Science contributor who wrote an article giving more facts on how the weighted blankets work. There seems to be a lot of debate concerning the use of these blankets. They are also referred to as gravity blankets and were once a tool used in therapy and psychiatry clinics that have now gone mainstream.
But, are there any health benefits to using these blankets?
They are used to ease anxiety but this along with other issues remain a matter of debate. There are some experts that caution the 25-pound blankets may pose a hazard to children. They are actually harmless when used by teens or adults, according to Teresa May-Benson, an occupational therapist with the nonprofit Spiral Foundation in Newton, Massachusetts. They have caused two deaths through misuse of the blankets in a 9 year old boy with autism and a 7 month old baby.
They have a history in occupational therapy called sensory integration therapy to help people with autism or other disorders to focus on sensory experiences. It may regulate their emotions and behavior. The blankets are a tool used by therapists to provide “deep-touch pressure.” This helps to calm that arousal level in the system and helps with self-regulation.
There are many companies that sell the blankets at a price of $150 to $300. Makers of the blankets claim they are a gravity blanket that could treat ailments including insomnia, obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety. A crowdfunding site named Kickstarter prohibits their users from claiming the product as cures or treatments for medical conditions. ZonLi is a weighted blanket for kids.
In research studies of 33 adults it was reported 33% showing a greater drop in skin conductance, 19 participants felt more relaxed and 8 felt more anxious under the blanket.
Other blankets are Sensadream Weighted Blankets and Harkla Weighted Blankets for Kids. They have found a reduction in the amount of tension in children using other types of deep pressure. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy tested a “hug machine” in 12 children with autism. A reduction in the tension was found in those children using the machine, but did not find changes in the kids’ skin conductance.
This is generally seen as a calming tool but there are lots of different ways to deliver that pressure. It could be through a massage or use of therapeutic brushes on the skin. Everyone is different and so will the results be different.
They suggest using quilts and duvets to see how you feel before laying out that much cash on a special blanket. There is a well-tested therapy for insomnia called cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia which has the stamp of approval from the National Institutes of Health.
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