The Therapeutic Use of Weight

///The Therapeutic Use of Weight
The Therapeutic Use of Weight 2019-01-21T17:16:32-05:00
Rhymes with Orange Nationally syndicated comic strip published: January 29, 2006 Re-printed with permission of the artist

Rhymes with Orange – Nationally syndicated comic strip published: January 29, 2006 – Re-printed with permission of the artist

The Therapeutic Use of Weighted Blankets

There are a variety of ways to incorporate the use of weight into daily activities and treatment sessions. One example of the therapeutic application of weight is the use of a weighted blanket. It has been used in acute psychiatry among a variety of age groups and populations and is currently perceived by both consumers and staff as one of the most helpful of the sensory tools used by people during crisis states.

Modified version of the 2007 AOTA presentation by Champagne, Mullen & Dickson: Exploring the Safety & Effectiveness of the Use of Weighted Blankets with Adult Populations

Weighted Blanket Presentation References

Note: all research data contained in this power point presentation has been accepted for publication or is going through the acceptance process. Use of this data for any purposes other than personal review requires written authorization by Tina Champagne. M.Ed, OTR/L.

Hospital Trying Blanket Therapy
Article printed in the Republican Newspaper’s Health & Science Section
Friday, April 28th, 2006
Reprinted with permission from the Republican

New vest offers wearer a portable hug
The Boston Globe

Ways to utilize a weighted blanket:

Lying under a weighted blanket

Photo taken in: Cooley-Dickinson Hospital ‘s Adult Acute Inpatient Psychiatric Unit’s Sensory Room Northampton, MA USA

Wrapping in a weighted blanket while rocking in a glider

Photo taken in: Cooley-Dickinson Hospital ‘s Adult Acute Inpatient Psychiatric Unit’s Sensory Room Northampton, MA USA

People experiencing symptoms of depression, mania, anxiety, psychosis, paranoia, trauma or detoxification have reported relief from the use of weighted blankets in particular. People with mood disorders, trauma histories, substance abuse histories and those who tend to engage in self-injurious behaviors often report positive effects when using weighted items when feeling stressed, disorganized or when cravings occur. Some use weighted items only when in crisis states, others only when not in crisis states and yet there are others who report it is beneficial at both times. Those who report having a positive effect from the use of weight typically describe it as having a “grounding” effect. However, it is important to stress that for some it may be very alerting to the system. Furthermore, as with any type of stimulation, there are people who report having a noxious or undesirable response to the use of weighted items.

Weighted blankets, vests, lap pads, wrist and ankle weights are examples of weighted items. It is helpful to offer these items in a variety of fabrics and with the option to be able to vary the amount of weight used at any given time. For example, a fleece material may be much preferred over velour.

Examples of weighted items:

Brown weighted blanket (heavy & durable velux material); Navy blue fleece/plaid cotton 2-sided weighted blanket; blue weighted lap pad. All have option to add and/or remove weights.

The Weighted Cozy Comforter can be used by all age groups
The Weighted Vest is also used by all ages and is made in casual styles

Pictures provided by

Although there have been guidelines established for how much weight to use, how long, and how often, it is a very individual process. Human beings are very dynamic and what works for one person may or may not necessarily work for another. It is important to work with each person and help them determine what helps and how much intensity is most beneficial during different states over time.

Weighted Stuffed Animals & Dolls


Weighted stuffed animals and dolls are other weighted modality options. The pictures above demonstrate examples that have been provided by: Salt of the Earth Weighted Gear. Each of these weighted items weighs up to 4 pounds and is each 13 inches long.

Stuffed animals and dolls are sometimes carried around and therefore, must not be weighted any heavier than can easily be carried by the person using it. It is also possible to add weight to any favorite stuffed toy. Plastic pellets, used to weight craft dolls and to fill beanbags, are available at most craft supply stores and are one of the most hygienic materials to use when adding weight to any object. Poly-Pellets can be used alone or with cotton batting or fiberfill when making or adapting a weighted item. Pellet quality will influence the appearance of your finished project. For a top-quality poly-pellet product go online to Poly-fil.

Infection Control Considerations

It is important to note that when using weighted modalities in hospital settings is it necessary to be able to wash each of the items between use by different people. Therefore, use caution in the kinds of equipment purchased, being sure that they are machine and/or hand washable and that they will withstand ongoing washings. When a weighted item is created or purchased specifically for one individual, infection control issues differ because it is not for general use. However, when used by more than one person this becomes an infection control issue within most healthcare organizations.

A Big Investment

Weighted modalities can be very costly. Therefore, it is essential to shop around, find a vendor that you can contact directly, and one that can help you to customize your order to best fit your needs.

Making your Own Weighted Modalities

For many people, purchasing a weighted modality is beyond their means financially. Therefore, the following downloads are provided to demonstrate ways to make some of the different weighted modalities (weighted blankets, vests, and stuffed animals).

Make Your Own Weighted Blanket (PDF)

Make Your Own Weighted Stuffed Animal, Pillow or Baby Doll (PDF)

The Weighted Blanket is a book by Diane Walker, MS, OTR/L and Kathleen McCormack, which includes information about the use of weighted blankets and instructions on how to make weighted blankets for the more skilled seamstress.