Journal Club Discussion #1: Hippotherapy

Hey readers! If you follow my Instagram account, you know what these journal discussions are all about. My goal is for you guys to read the article that I chose for this post and then we can all engage in a discussion in the comments below. If you are an AOTA member, reading all of these articles will be really easy for you. Just sign into your account, access the American Journal of Occupational Therapy, and read away! Here is this week’s article: https://ajot.aota.org/article.aspx?articleid=2666720&resultClick=3 

This week we are talking about something that I am really interested in: sensory integration and interventions! I became interested in this topic when I observed OT at an outpatient pediatric clinic prior to starting grad school. At the clinic, there were crash pads, various types of swings, and a hammock made out of a nylon/elastic material that the kiddos could bounce in while wrapped in a cocoon. I immediately was fascinated in how these interventions work to help the kiddos process the sensations in their environment and I dream of one day working in a clinic like this one.

For those of you who don’t know, kiddos who have sensory processing disorder (SPD) typically have difficulties processing, adapting to, organizing, and/or using sensory information in their everyday environment, and may be either sensory seeking, sensory avoiding, sensory hyper-responsive, or sensory under-responsive. This is really common among individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), but do not always go hand-in-hand (you can have ASD without having SPD, and you can have SPD without having ASD).

Some of the interventions that the authors of this study discuss are slow swinging, wearing a weighted vest, sitting on a therapy ball rather than a chair in the classroom, changing the sensations in the environment (ex. light or sound), Willbarger brushing, Qigong massage, and the Astronaut Program.

Question of the week: do you use any of these interventions in your practice, and if so do you see positive results in your clients?

The results of this study found that the Qigong massage program yielded the greatest positive outcomes among clients who have difficulty processing their sensory environment. Weighted vests yielded limited evidence, however the study used was only among children with ADHD and should be studied among children with ASD. Slow swinging also had limited evidence, however is thought to be beneficial for enhancing attention among individuals with high arousal states or are overresponsive to sensory stimuli. Changing the sensory environment demonstrated moderate evidence for its effectiveness in treating individuals with sensory processing difficulties. What are your thoughts on these findings?

Citation: Bodison, S. C. & Parham, L. D. (2017). “Specific sensory techniques and sensory environmental modifications for children and youth with sensory integration difficulties: A systematic review.” American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 72. doi: 10.5014/ajot.2018.029413

Let’s discuss!

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