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Evaluating the Safety and Effectiveness of the Weighted Blanket with Adults During an Inpatient Mental Health Hospitalization

4 October, 2017

Champagne, T., Mullen, B., Dickson., D & Krishnamurty, S. (2015). Occupational Therapy in Mental Health, 31:3, 211-233

 

In 2015 an exploratory pilot study which investigates the safety and effectiveness of the standardized use of a 30-pound (14 kg) weighted blanket (WB) was presented. A total of 30 adults from an acute inpatient mental health hospitalization participated.

The WB is a therapeutic method used to self-comfort, rest, sleep and to reduce anxiety or stress. It is used to assist individuals in achieving and maintaining an optimal level of nervous system arousal to help support self-regulation and participation in meaningful roles and occupations. The WB is a class of sensory processing-related intervention that utilize deep pressure touch stimulation (DPTS). Sensory modulation interventions with DPTS involves tactile stimulation, providing the feeling of firm pressure (similar to the pressure experienced from a hug), holding, swaddling, or massage.

A heterogeneous population was used in the study. The 30 participants (8 men and 22 women) completed all portions of the study, with an age range of 18-54. 80 % of the participants had a trauma history, and 33% had a history of restraint use in previous hospitalizations.

The pilot study was employed within a controlled environment in order to assess safety and effectiveness of the use of the WB. Safety measured data included blood pressure, pulse rate, and pulse oximetry monitoring, with and without the 30-pound WB. The effectiveness measures, for anxiety reduction, include the State Trait Anxiety Inventory-10 (STAI-10), a self-rating 0–10 anxiety scale, and Electrodermal Activity (EDA). Measurements regarding the safety concluded that the use of the 30-pound WB did not cause any adverse influence on physiological safety in terms of blood circulation, as evidenced by the three vital signs data collected, for all the 30 participants.

The effectiveness of the weighted blankets measured that the STAI-10 results showed that 60% of the participants had a positive effect while using the WB. The 0-10 self-rating showed that 66.7% had a significant reduction in anxiety using the WB. The EDA readings were inconclusive.

The study indicates that the use of a WB was 100% safe and effective for 60% of the adult participants.