Why Vibrations Help
Sensory processing is a part of typical development that refers to one’s ability to interpret and integrate sensory stimuli in order to produce a response. The integration of sensory information in one’s surroundings contributes to one’s functioning in everyday life, which include social interactions, adaptive behavioral skills and abilities, and the ability to self-regulate (Miller et al., 2017). Individuals who have difficulty with sensory processing can exhibit multiple different behavioral patterns, from under-responsivity, where individuals are less reactive and aware of the stimuli in their environments; sensory seeking, where individuals are constantly seeking intense stimuli (i.e. constantly moving and searching for tactile stimulation); to over-responsivity, in which individuals can be averse to environmental stimuli, and find them unpleasant and irritating.
Any of these above conditions can negatively affect how one interacts with their physical and social environments, as well as one’s concentration levels and ability to learn and integrate new information. Sensory processing issues are common amongst individuals with ADHD, which can adversely affect motor performance and behavior (Shimizu et al., 2014). Sensory processing issues are increasingly common amongst individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder and anxiety disorders, which can negatively affect everyday functioning (Miller et al., 2017). Fortunately, there are intervention tools that exist that can greatly reduce sensory aversions or sensory seeking behaviors to help individuals better interact with their surrounding environments.
Vibration therapy has been proven to assist with everyday functioning of individuals with sensory processing difficulties. Vibrations stimulate muscle spindles, which are parts of the muscle that detect changes in length of the muscle, i.e. when they contract or relax. This leads to a reflex response of the muscle, which can increase heart rate and oxygen uptake, which can thereby increase the brain’s ability to concentrate. Additionally, vibration excites skin receptors which send messages to the brain regarding sensory input and therefore help regulate sensory output (i.e. one’s response to a sensory stimulus). The frequency of the vibration is dependent on the type of sensory processing issue, as the treatment technique differs for sensory over- and under-responsivity. For those who experience sensory under-responsivity, higher frequency vibration can increase muscle tension, thereby increasing mental alertness. For those who experience sensory over-responsivity, lower intensity vibrations can help individuals build tolerance to more aversive sensations.
Senseez is unique in that it provides an opportunity to experience vibrations in any location, as their products are portable and discreet. This can allow a child to concentrate better at school, to interact better with his or her peers, as well as with his or her environment in general. Their products are not limited to children, as vibrations can be used as calming tools for anxiety by regulating sensory output. As occupational therapists aim to maximize autonomy and everyday functioning, the incorporation of portable Senseez products into their clients’ sensory diets will enable their clients to use vibrations on their own time, in their own environments, rather than waiting to undergo vibration therapy in the therapy room, thereby maximizing their independence and allowing them to do the things that matter most to them.
Miller, L. J., Schoen, S. A., Mulligan, S., & Sullivan, J. (2017). Identification of Sensory Processing and Integration Symptom Clusters: A Preliminary Study. Occupational Therapy International, 2017, 2876080.
Shimizu, V. T., Bueno, O. F. A., & Miranda, M. C. (2014). Sensory processing abilities of children with ADHD. Brazilian Journal of Physical Therapy, 18(4), 343–352.
Fuermaier, A. B. M., Tucha, L., Koerts, J., van Heuvelen, M. J. G., van der Zee, E. A., Lange, K. W., & Tucha, O. (2014). Good Vibrations – Effects of Whole Body Vibration on Attention in Healthy Individuals and Individuals with ADHD. PLoS ONE, 9(2), e90747.
Regterschot, G. R. H., Van Heuvelen, M. J. G., Zeinstra, E. B., Fuermaier, A. B. M., Tucha, L., Koerts, J., … Van Der Zee, E. A. (2014). Whole Body Vibration Improves Cognition in Healthy Young Adults. PLoS ONE, 9(6), e100506.