Monday, September 12, 2011

Wyatt's Sensory Therapies....Brushing and Compressions

the first therapeutic technique that we added when we started wyatt's sensory therapies was "The Wilbarger Deep Pressure and Proprioceptive Technique (DPPT)."   this is what we simply call "brushing and compressions," and we "attempt" to do it every 2 hours...."attempt!"   no less than 1 1/2 hours apart is the protocol....

developed by particia wilbarger, who is an occupational therapist and a clinical psychologist, it is described as "a prescriptive method of providing stimulation to help the mind-brain-body self-organize."  more can be read about this therapy here.  some of the
benefits may include:
  • an improved ability to transition between various daily activities
  • an improvement in the ability to pay attention
  • a decreased fear and discomfort of being touched (tactile defensiveness)
  • an increase in the ability of the central nervous system to use information from the peripheral nervous system more effectively, resulting in enhanced movement coordination, functional communication, sensory modulation, and hence, self-regulation.
we use a special soft, plastic surgical brush (just like we used to wash wyatt before his open heart surgery!), applying very firm pressure on his arms, legs and his back.  after this we apply joint compressions to his arms and legs; holding them outright and applying light pressure in 10 count repetitions to give input to those joints!  

sometimes he likes the whole process better than others!  we also give joint compressions at times when he seems particularly anxious or upset, or when he wants to "hit" at us.   we give compressions (gently) to his spine and head, which sometimes gives him the input that he is seeking, and alleviates those behaviors!  sometimes it works, sometimes not!   

we have seen much improvement in his ability to pay attention, particularly in therapy!   his therapists have noticed this change in a big way!!  and we have seen him be much more gentle with his touch as well, which is HUGE!!!     next post i'll talk about "therapeutic listening...."

Wilbarger, P.& Wilbarger, J. (1991). Sensory Defensiveness in Childrens Aged 1-12: An Intervention Guide for Parents and Other Caretakers, Avanti Educational Programs: Santa Barbara, CA.

Wilbarger, P. (1984, September). Planning an adequate sensory diet-application of sensory processing theory during the first year of life.  Zero to Three, 7-12.

Wilbarger, J. & Wilbarger, P. (2002). Wilbarger approach to treating sensory defensiveness and clinical application of the sensory diet. Sections in alternative and complementary programs for intervention, In Bundy, A.C., Murray, E.A., & Lane, S. (Eds.). Sensory Integration: Theory and Practice, 2nd Ed. F.A. Davis, Philadelphia, PA.


  1. Penny! You MUST guest post. . . OR, do I have your permission to post the links to your blog on The Chronicles of Ellie Bellie Bear? I have a whole section on sensory stuff, but Ellie has different therapies and sensory issues. You are a fountain of information and I just think it would be so helpful. Plus, I really just want to flaunt the handsomeness of Ellie's fiance. Let me know if I can share or you want to write a special post! Love love love the details and explanations--PLUS PICTURES!

  2. We just started brushing with Claire and she loves it. She'll even crawl to her brush and bring it back to me. :)

    After a crazy weekend we have missed a few DAYS worth of sessions. Whether it's missing the brushing, the full moon, or the 2 new teeth coming in Claire has been acting out a lot more lately. I need to get the brush out again!

  3. I am amazed at the amount of information you are absorping on your journey to make life better for your precious baby boy! WOW! I'm inspired by your resolve! Go Penny Go !!!!

  4. This is so great! We use those brushes at our school for a few students who have sensory integration issues. The parents say it's been a wonder!