The Role of Weighted Blankets in the Treatment of Traumatic Brain Injuries
There are about 5.3 million people that have been affected with traumatic brain injury in the US, and the number of deaths from brain trauma have risen to 153 per day, accounting for 30 percent of injury-related deaths. Brain injuries may be caused by brain vibration within the skull, which can range from mild to serious, and others result from the penetration of an object to the head leading to punctures or fractures of the skull.
Some traumatic brain injuries include falling from a high surface or ladder, falling in the bathroom, auto and other accidents, domestic violence, child abuse, violent shaking of an infant, exposure to explosions, and extreme sports injuries such as football, boxing, and hockey. Scientists are studying these injuries in order to determine how the damage occurs. Some believe that a wave of stress travels through the brain and greatly affects its function.
Nearly 70% of those affected suffer from insomnia, fatigue, drowsiness, sleep apnea, periodic mobility disorder, depression, anxiety, and pain.
Medications and special care may help to limit secondary damage such as excess fluid, hypoxia, seizures, etc., as a result of trauma especially in more severe cases, but rest is the best treatment for brain injury.
The idea of introducing pressure for stress and anxiety was first introduced when Dr. Mary Temple Grandin, a professor of zoology at the University of Colorado, observed cows being calmed by pressure devices designed to hold them still for vaccinations and decided to transfer the technology to autistic patients. She was diagnosed as autistic as a child.
For decades, weighted blankets have been used to relieve stress and anxiety, as well as help individuals suffering from autism and post-traumatic stress disorder. More recently, weighted blankets have been added to the treatment of traumatic brain injuries, as a means of inducing rest, relaxation and sleep. A weighted blanket may be as important as getting medication for people with traumatic brain injuries, as insomnia is one of the most common symptoms of a patient. For those with insomnia, deep pressure touch stimulation is a key to falling sleeping easily and staying asleep longer.
The weighted blanket itself around your body forms a warm embrace, where pressure helps to relax the nervous system. It is completely safe and can be an effective non-drug therapy to help sleep and relax, and is used by different hospital units, including psychiatric, pediatric, geriatric and trauma.
Weighted blankets create a sense of "grounding" that applies moderate pressure. It reduces the production of cortisol, which can inhibit melatonin production, which in turn can have a negative impact on sleep quality.
In a 2015 study conducted by a group of Swedes, weighted blankets were said to help improve the quality of sleep by providing a sense of being “cocooned” that made it easier to sleep and helped stay asleep.
A similar study by the University of Massachusetts showed a test of the efficacy of a weighted blanket among 32 participants. Data revealed that 63% of respondents reported less concern after use and 78% preferred it as a calming mechanism.
According to Sensory Goods, those who want to use these weighted blankets should choose one that represents about 10% of their body weight so as not to be too heavy. For children, it is possible to add 1-2 pounds in addition to the previous ratio.