With Cara Koscinski, MOT, OTR/L, I wrote a book on weighted blankets, The Weighted Blanket Guide: Everything You Need to Know about Weighted Blankets and Deep Pressure for Autism, Chronic Pain, and Other Conditions.
What is a weighted blanket?
In its simplest form, a weighted blanket is two pieces of fabric sewn together with a heavy filling inside. The filling is sewn into squares to give even weight distribution. From that simple method, a new generation of weighted blanket makers have grown up, a whole industry built around this “new”concept of weight on the body.
Many liken a weighted blanket to the feeling of the lead vest at the dentist’s office. A weighted blanket can give that same feeling, but better because the blanket is pliable to give a feeling of an overall big hug. The material which is added to provide the blanket’s weight, offers conforming comfort to the user.
Think about weighted blankets differently than you would a regular blanket. They are not about keeping warm, rather, about the weight on the body. While most weighted blankets on the market aren’t designed for warmth, some blankets have batting in them to give warmth as a comforter would.
Who does it help?
We conducted a survey of over 300 occupational therapists. (Here are the full results.) They reported that patients with the following conditions had improvement with the use of weighted blankets. I also included conditions helped that I learned of while at my weighted blanket company.
Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Major mental illness
Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)
How are weighted blankets used in medical settings?
Weighted blankets are so effective, hospitals are using them. They are used in post-surgery, geriatric, pediatric, mental health and other units. They are most often used on behavioral health (mental health) units. Staff use them with patients who are dealing with extreme anxiety.
Hospital staff report that the blankets help the patients feel calmer, and they sleep better.
When a patient is experiencing extreme symptoms, they will use the blanket at the first sign of agitation. They also use the blankets to avoid using restraint or seclusion.
With my former weighted blanket business, I did training for hospitals and individual consumer education.
OT Weighted Blanket Survey
For the book, I conducted a survey of over 300 occupational therapists about weighted blankets. To read individual answers, see our OT Survey.
About the Authors
Pediatric occupational therapist, Cara Koscinski, MOT, OTR/L, is an author of numerous books on occupational therapy and autism, a frequent magazine contributor, and a national speaker. She has successfully founded two pediatric therapy clinics and has created CDs for children with autism and auditory sensitivity. Her two children have autism, so she knows how much their weighted blankets help them.
Eileen Parker has autism and sensory processing disorder. She first tried a weighted blanket at occupational therapy, which led to owning a weighted blanket company for six years. In this book, she will give her personal experiences and her knowledge learned through her business. She sleeps with a thirty-four-pound queen size on her bed.