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The Wilbarger Brushing Technique: What Is It And How Can It Help?

What Is The Wilbarger Brushing Protocol?

The Wilbarger Deep Pressure and Proprioceptive Technique was developed by Patricia Wilbarger, Med, OTR, FAOTA. Based on the theory of Sensory Integration, the brushing technique uses a specific method of stimulation to help the brain organize sensory information.

Our skin is our largest sensory organ, followed closely by our muscles and skeleton, connected by our nervous system and governed by our brain. The sensory system feeds information from our environment, via our central nervous system, directly to our brain. The brain then organizes it, and sends it back through the nervous system for the purposes of understanding, adapting, learning and skill development. When our nervous system functions well, it allows a person to interact with their environment efficiently, developing necessary motor and language skills as well as appropriate social/emotional behavior. When our system is unable to organize the information appropriately, a variety of symptoms can be present: motor delays, tactile defensiveness, learning disorders, social or emotional difficulties, speech and language deficits and attention disorders.

Many children have atypical sensory processing. They have difficulties with too much (hypersensitive) or too little sensory (hyposensitive) inputs, including tactile inputs (touch) and proprioception inputs (deep pressure). This can be called the Goldilocks and The Three Bears Principle. Not too much, not too little, just the right amount of touch and proprioception is desired. The Wilbarger technique is used to help children widen their “just right” zone so they are not as hyper- or hyposensitive to touch and proprioception. You should notice gradual improvement with tactile and proprioception sensitivity and seeking behaviors when you consistently apply this technique.

The Purpose and Benefits:

  • Can improve ability to transition between activities (calming after emotional outburst, improving tolerance levels).
  • Can help children who have a fear or discomfort of being touched (tactile defensiveness).
  • Can increase self-regulation and self-calming.
  • Can increase the ability of the nervous system to use information from the senses more effectively, i.e. speech and/or motor.
  • Can improve attention and focus.
  • Children generally like the procedure!

The Wilbarger Brushing Technique should be introduced and practiced with a caregiver by the child’s occupational therapist so it can be integrated into the their daily routine. The technique uses a surgical scrub brush just like the brush that surgeons use to scrub their hands and arms before surgery. This plastic brush is not rough and will not scratch. It provides just the right amount of pressure and sensations to the skin.

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Great place, glad we found them. Been going to Medina over 2 months now and he loves Lauryn and Kyler. Wish they had more ABA therapy places available... live in Wooster and long drive everyday.

Karrie Swan LaRock

My 11 year old son has dyslexia and has made noticeable gains in working At LLA THERAPY. Katie is strong in her approach toward him and also keeps him comfortable enough to perform well. We will continue visiting both the Fairlawn and Hudson offices and recommend them highly.

Ron Monroe

My 9 year old just completed about 9 months of weekly speech sessions (due to his stuttering) with Matt Hagge at LLA and we are thrilled with the experience and results. What I thought might be a negative (what kid really wants to go to speech class?) was made very positive by Matt, and my son never hesitated or complained when we talked about class. He really enjoyed it and really took what Matt taught him to heart. His speech has been greatly improved and we definitely recommend LLA. Thank you so much!

Heather Dougherty-Pantoja

My son’s Occupational Therapist, Jess, is an amazing OT! She gives practical tips on working with my son at home and school!

Terri Apgar

I cannot say enough good things about LLA Therapy. My daughter was a client of Teal Simmons’ for approximately 2 years and was just released from speech therapy! She was diagnosed with Apraxia in 2015 and worked with Teal twice a week. Through Teal’s application of PROMPT therapy, my daughter had age-appropriate speech after one year. All of the staff we interacted with at LLA were absolutely wonderful. They really care about what they do and making sure your child achieves their goals.

Kelli Geisler Davisson

LLA Therapy has been an excellent experience for my son as well as my family! My son always asks, "When can I go see Ms. Jeannine again, is it Monday??" He has also made huge gains in only 5 months! I would highly recommend LLA and have already shared my experience with friends looking for services!

Victoria Hansford-Price

We are so grateful for our Speech Therapist Ms.Teal. We have seen a great improvement with our sons confidence and communication abilities since we have started "Prompt" therapy. What we love the most about LLA and Ms. Teal is that Kohl feels comfortable and relaxed which has played a critical role in his progress. Thank you Ms. Teal for all you have done.

Laura Lee Hogsett

They have helped in numerous ways. Speech, OT and behavioral. I've had numerous compliments on my son's progress thanks in very large part to LLA. I would recommend LLA before I recommend our local children's hospitals, though they are good, they don't have the staff that LLA does.

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We had a great experience with Matt Hagge at LLA! Our Middle School age son was becoming very conscious of his voice, which is nasal due to a cleft palate. Matt helped him to better form his sounds and project his voice in a way that makes the unavoidable nasality less noticeable.Our son is more confident and outgoing & even took on a speaking role in the church play. Matt has the perfect personality to relate with our son, and we would recommend him to anyone needing speech therapy services!

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