What is Deep Pressure Touch

Bring out the research geek in me and I’ll spend hours reading peer-reviewed periodicals, taking notes and assimilating information. Researching Deep Pressure Touch therapy (DPT) was no exception.

What is DPT?

Deep pressure is the “sensation produced when an individual is hugged, squeezed, stroked or held” and include weighted products, swaddling, and brushing.  Occupation therapists commonly use this therapy when working with children with autism and other related sensory processing disorders. In the 1960’s and 70’s, Ayres developed deep pressure as part of sensory integration theory. The intent with DPT is to help relieve stress and anxiety with the added goal of improved quality of daily living. (source link)

How does it work?

The application of DPT has a potential calming effect on reducing stress and anxiety. Just think of how relaxed you feel after a massage or if someone gives you a scalp massage.

Generally, through DPT the happy, feel good hormone, serotonin,is released and individuals can experience reduction in stress and anxiety.  (graphic insert)

When using targeted weights around wrists and ankles, uses get a better sense of their body in space while being grounded within their environment. In the case of weighted blankets, users receive a cocooning hug feeling, increasing their serotonin (feel good hormone) which then results in increasing melatonin (sleep hormone), which is why many are now using weighted blankets to help reduced sleep disturbances.  Even on an interval use base, there are benefits. Using weighted lap pads, blankets, and vest throughout the day as required stimulates serotonin production, thus helping the user to reduce anxiety and increase calmness and grounding sensations.

Depending on the focus of the studies I read, I found differences in professional opinion related to when DPT should be implemented, how it should be implemented, and who should implement DPT.  That’s not to say there is controversy regarding its use (efficacy). In the area of sensory stimulation and therapy, it is a well known and practised form of therapy. The debate I frequently encountered surrounded who benefits from DPT and how and by whom it should be implemented.

What does this mean to the general population?

In a nutshell, not much. If you personally are involved with DPT in some way, shape of form, then you have a personal and custom experience that is relevant to you. I won’t expand into techniques, forms and models, as for the general population, this isn’t relevant. If you wish further details on the intricacies of DPT speak with your Occupation Therapist as they are the experts!

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