Weighted Blanket for Brain Trauma Injury
Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) usually occur following serious accidents like road crashes or gunshot wounds to the head. It could also be as a result of rough playground play or contact sports.
Symptoms of a traumatic brain injury include trouble concentrating, nausea, dizziness, memory difficulties, severe distraction and confusion.
"Sensory defensiveness" is one struggle that plagues victims of TBI, and may manifest itself in a lot of ways:
1. Tactile (touch)
An individual might overreact to ordinary touch stimuli, like refusing to play with clay, or being annoyed by a tag on his shirt. They may also avoid regular day-to-day activities that deal with touch such as washing parts of the body or clipping their nails.
Other symptoms are avoiding crowds and hating light touch (e.g. a peck on the cheek) but seeking out more intimate touch (e.g. a bear hug).
2. Gravitational (movement and balance)
Also referred to as vestibular insecurity, this deals with the body's vestibular system and our sense of movement and balance. This supports our posture, coordination skills, vision, and emotions.
Someone with this type of sensory defensiveness may have an irrational and exaggerated fear of falling during ordinary activities (e.g. riding a bike, going up an escalator, going on a swing). They also become overwhelmed when they are spun upside down.
They prefer sedentary activities which require minimal movement (e.g. sitting in front of the couch, playing on the computer) and avoid social events.
3. Auditory (hearing)
Auditory defensiveness refers to sensitivity to common sounds such as the sound of a vacuum or a dog's bark. Someone with TBI usually covers his ears in an attempt to "block out" the noise, and will display extreme discomfort in the presence of loud sounds.
Children with TBI, in particular, tend to avoid activities that most kids enjoy such as eating in the lunchroom, going to amusement parks, and birthday parties.
4. Oral (taste, smell, texture)
The olfactory system relates to our sense of smell, while our gustatory system refers to our sense of taste. These two systems control a large part of our emotions and memory, and helps us identify texture, temperature, and flavor.
Individuals with TBI are typically picky eaters and prefer to eat the same food again and again. Certain smells, textures, and tastes make them want to vomit. Children who have TBI don't like messy tactile play (e.g. finger paint, playing in the sand) and brushing their teeth.
Care For TBI Victims
Pharmacological treatment is essential for cases of traumatic brain injury, but alternative and non-invasive methods are also extremely effective, such as the use of a weighted blanket.
The heavier-than-normal pressure provided by the glass microbeads effectively alleviates the symptoms of TBI. A weighted blanket is typically used at night but it may also be very handy during the day, whenever you feel like you need a sense of calm to soothe your distressed nerves.
Weighted blankets makes use of Deep Pressure Therapy, which has been proved to stimulate serotonin production in the body. This hormone is in charge of regulating your mood and in synthesizing melatonin, which is also referred to as the "sleep hormone".
In a study done in 2015 published in the Journal of Sleep Medicine and Disorders, participants reported to have had an easier time falling asleep with the weighted blanket as opposed to just a regular blanket. They also were found to have had better quality sleep, making them feel more refreshed in the morning.
Occupational therapists have been known to use Deep Pressure Therapy to rehabilitate and treat patients with sensory disorders and neurological conditions. With a weighted blanket, patients with traumatic brain disorder will be provided with a sense of calm and comfort that they might not have felt in a very, very long time.