The other day I had a great experience with a little boy, who benefited from the use of a pressure vest to increase his proprioception (body awareness).
This little one was 18 months old, and he had been working on how to walk. It’s also important to mention that this particular boy was born seven weeks premature.
Premature Babies and the Affects of Cognitive Delay
I’ve noticed in my years of work that children that are born premature often need extra assistance with developing their proprioceptive system. The end of pregnancy is when the sensory system is doing its final development and this is a very important time.
Real Results of Children Wearing Pressure Vests
Knowing all of this, I tend to want to make sure these premature babies are getting the proper assistance, in order to support the development of their sensory system. This was the case with this young boy. When I noticed the child was waddling, (moving back and forth) somewhat as he was stepping to walk, I thought the use of a pressure vest could be beneficial in this case in helping the child to become more aware of his body awareness and how he was moving.
What I (and other teaching and support staff) noticed immediately or within hours after putting a pressure vest on:
His pace of walking increased.
He moved his legs forward instead of to the side as he stepped.
He also had increased eye contact.
He had more vocalizations.
He laid on his tummy for the first time within a group of children.
His regular nap duration was 15 minutes and this day he slept an hour
With the help of the pressure vest, this boy was now benefiting from feeling his edges, where his body ended and began. He also now felt or could perceive his core, which enabled movements to start from his core instead of his hips.
Getting More Information on Pressure Vests and Development of the Proprioceptive System
The proprioceptive system is difficult to explain, but I’m getting pretty good at it after all the years of teaching Early Start/ Head Start staff where I am based, as well as many other caring teachers and related staff in trainings. A pressure vests isn’t the main solution to increasing proprioception. There are many ways to advance this system along. Hire me for a training and I’ll fill you in on more tips and activities to increase body awareness in your students.
If you are unsure of whether a particular student you’re working with would be a good candidate to use a pressure vest on, I encourage you to leave me a comment in the comment box below or send me a message on my Facebook page. I’ll always respond. Thank you for working with kids!
(Please note that pressure vests or my suggestions do not substitute for physical occupational therapy assistance. However, I did want to provide these resources to those who work in rural areas that may lack availability to these services. Be sure to refer a child for the services they would benefit from if they are available. Also, continue to learn about these benefits to enable greater dialogue with the therapists you are working with).