Thursday, July 17, 2008

Portable Hugs

Brian Mullen, a doctoral mechanical engineering student at The University of Massachusetts Amherst, has developed a portable hug vest - also known as a "deep-pressure” vest.

The vest, available for children and adults with sensorimotor issues or mental illness, delivers a “portable hug” via Deep Pressure Touch Stimulation (DPTS).

DPTS has been around a while, helping to reduce anxiety and harmful behaviors by providing a calming sensory experience. It has been shown to improve the lives of individuals with Autism, Alzheimer's, Asperger's, ADHD, PTSD and other neuropsychological illnesses. And FYI, blankets, sleeping bags, other clothing and accessories are available in weighted forms.

It's always so cool when technology enhances lives.


Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for posting about this, Deb.

I was discussing the comfort we've always gotten from this kind of pressure with a blog buddy recently. I'll be sure and direct her to this post, though she reads you anyway.
And I'm stoked to find out they actually make things specifically for this niche need. Apparently it's not that niche 'eh.

But really less exciting for what they specifically make than for now feeling moderately less strange for finding it really soothing.

Anonymous said...

Wow! This is really neat! I had no idea anything like this even existed! I have a child with severe ADHD and the prospect of something on the market that might possibly help him is definately soemthing i'm interested in looking into! Thanks Deb!! This was a cool post

The Lone Beader® said...

I need a hug!

Grumpy Old Man said...

I can see the usefulness, but there is something unutterably sad about a machine designed to assuage skin hunger.

"All the lonely people, where do they all come from?"

Anonymous Mom said...

I wouldn't mind having one just to pretend I was getting a hug when I need one.

I love it when you post, its always something interesting. This makes sense, I hope it helps a lot of people.

Angel Chasse said...

Like some of the other posters, I had no idea that there was a need or purpose for this type of thing, but I am very happy to see that people will get relief and comfort from such a "simple idea" :):) Technology at it's best for sure!!! Thanks for the post, again an eye-opener for me! Off to look up more info on these types of devies :):) Have a great weekend!


PTC said...

That's cool. Does it help when family members move to the other side of the world??

nRT said...

I was just talking to my sister about these blankets. She has them for her kids who are now approaching HS. They still find comfort in the blanket or now its like a throw.
I like to sleep with two quilts, for the it is giving the same effect, it's comforting to me.
There is a web site out of Maine

that sells a variety of weighted items. I have bought from them before. the blanket is left on the back of the couch and we all use it.

SeaSpray said...

This is AWESOME. It would be nice for some in the elderly population forgotten elderly shut ins.

Anonymous said...

I am wondering if this is why I have an almost neurotic attachment to two of my cardigans. Maybe they make me feel calm and cozy because they are hugging me.

Dr. Deb said...

Dear Catatonic,
I know many people who need deep touch. And many who do not enjoy the deep touch. To each his or her own. The important thing is to know what you need and to get it. Right?

Dear Denise,
DPTS has been around a while, but you are right. It's not very well known.

Dear Lone,
{{{{{{{{{{Ooomph}}}}}}}}} Just gave you one!

Dear GOM,
"All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?"

It is sad to think that certain sensorial issues are needed. I agree. I guess it would be even sadder to NOT know about such interventions. You always make me think, GOM.

Dear Barbara,
I wonder what it feels like. If I get a chance, I'd like to experience it. I enjoy when I get a pedicure and the massage chair deeply works my back. But I don't know if I would like the enclosed feeling of the vest. Or a blanket. Viva la difference.

Dear Angel,
Technology is SO cool. But with great power comes great responsibility.

Dear Palmtree,
I imagine it can!

Dear Winrob,
I will include the link in the post as an edit. And how great to know first hand how this makes you and your feel as well as your neice/nephews. Thanks for sharing.

Dear Seaspray,
What a BRILLIANT idea!!!!!!

Dear Intelligent,
There you go. Maybe that is why.

Kahless said...

Portable hugs....

How wonderful.

Dawn said...

That's so neat!

jenji said...

Hadn't heard of this, Deb.

Always love your posts!


Tiptoe said...

This reminds me a lot of what Temple Grandin talked about in her book, Thinking in Pictures. It's great to see the technology available to the public.

FYI, this is also works with some dogs who are anxious. It's called an anxiety wrap. T-shirts are also effective too.

Miss Defective said...

I've never been big on getting hugs from anyone except my daughter. I don't trust when other's violate my personal space, not even others that I love like my sister. I think I would be equally uncomfortable with a vest that did it.

But despite my own issues, I could see where it could offer others the needed comfort they seek.

Casdok said...

These can work very well for some.

And thank you for sharing Cs thoughts - would love to have seen it!

heiresschild said...

this is really neat. i think it's good even for people with no disorders who may just need a hug.

Clueless said...

I'm so glad that you posted about this. I have a couple of friends that have used this with their children and when I worked with autistic children it was wonderful, for most. The one for the child that is shown does it only provide pressure on the back?

Admin said...

interesting. i wouldn't mind one actually. :)

~Just Me Miranda~ said...

THat is so cool!

BTW, I've started a new blog, mum's the word.

east village idiot said...

does it come in size 12 petite?

Anonymous said...

This is pretty wonderful. A few years ago I saw prototypes for clothing that had sensors embedded that could detect signs of stress (e.g. respiration, pulse, temperature.etc.). Could be an interesting combination with this vest.

Wanda's Wings said...

Maybe it could help get over the fear of being hugged?

traci said...

I could have used one of these when my oldest daughter was little. I had to take classes to learn how to restrain her without hurting her and it would have been such a huge help to have something like this back then.

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Ian Lidster said...

What an intriguing concept. I am a hugger. I get 'skin hunger'. I hug and want to hug back -- only when appropriate, of course. I think I'd like a portable hug this Monday morning, though I'd prefer a real one.

Anonymous said...

What an exciting medical invention--- we all need some hugs and if this can help kids with autism what a way to make a lasing connection.

Mz.Elle said...

That is such a good idea!
I have a little girl who really,really needs firm hugs:)
I think it's a nervous system thing.
That device would be perfect for her.

Anonymous said...

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Since you mention a lot of new mental health relevant resources in your blog, I thought you might want to check out "iWebU - Learn about the Internet, new media, the latest gear and boost your private practice" a blog about technology geared to mental health professionals, written by mental health professionals. (See

alan said...

I saw this the other day and thought of my older son who has spent his summer working with kids with autism and Asperger's kids. I came back to get a link to send him...

You do so very much good in this world; may Karma bring it all back to you!


Alison said...

Thanks for this, I didn't know about it.

Dr. Deb said...

Dear Kahless,
I had the same reaction.

Dear Dawn
I agree!

I only recently became aware of this as well.

I have to get that book! Didn't know it works with animals. It makes sense though as I think about it!

I don't think I'd like the vest. I'm like you. A hug can feel too much to me sometimes.

I imagine it will be a unique experience for each person. The key is finding what works and what doesn't, right?

I think you are totally right!

I think it is a neck wrap. So just on the shoulders. Like when someone rests their hands on your neck and shoulders. It can feel very reassuring.

I'd like to try them all to see too. I think I'd like the lap one. But not a full blanket or vest.

~Me~ said...
Technology is so cool!

I'm sure it does.

Oh, wow. That is really so cool about the sensors etc. What great minds and creative thinkers we have among us!

Wanda's Wings,
As for getting over the fear of being hugged? You are totally spot-on with that. It could be used in "Exposure Therapy", where an experience is felt a little at a time and then gradually increased. What a fab idea.

Another great idea!!

Thank you.

{{{{{Oomph}}}}} Just gave you a cyber hug. With an extra Oomph for effect!

I love when various fields dovetail to create such things. I share your enthusiasm!

Or one of the weighted blankets, etc. So much to try for her.

Marina London,
Oh, how wonderful. I will check it out.

Hey Alan,
So glad it could help out. I love sharing such things as well as learning from other bloggers.

I also just learned about it as well. Read about this vest and then discovered a whole field deep pressure therapy. Amazing what the internet allows us to learn!

Anna said...

My son has used a weighted blanket for about 2 years now. It was custom made to his height and weight and fabric choices for him by DreamCatcher Weighted Blankets and has been the best thing we have ever done for him. He went from restless , sleepless night on medication to restful sleeping nights and no more meds. It is incredible!! The blanket we purchased was designed by parents of a child with autism and were committed to helping us every step of the way. Ken

Awake In Rochester said...

Nice, but nothing can equal the real thing. ;o)

shrink on the couch said...

Have you heard of Amma, the "Hugging Saint?" Rooted in Hinduism, she holds conferences where thousands line up to get a hug. My social work therapist friend attended one. She was quite moved and inspired by the experience.

Your post gave me a new insight about the power of Amma.

therapydoc said...

I want one.

Anonymous said...

Hi Deb.

Just happened to wander across your site today, and had to comment on the hug vest.

As an occupational therapist I want to point out this type of input, using vests, blankets, shirts, lap pads, etc has been used for years to help calm and center folks with autism, emotional disturbances, environmental deprivations, etc. I use weighted vests and lap pads, and recommend lycra clothing when appropriate to children who would benefit, and I have for almost 2 decades now.

I'm confused as to why this is being touted as a new invention. And to be honest, I suspect this "invention" will face the same problem most of the pre-made pressure/weighted items suffer from; they are ugly as heck and not very normal looking. Who wants to stand out any more then necessary?