Wilbarger Therapressure Protocol for Sensory Defensiveness

What is the Wilbarger Therapressure Protocol?

The Wilbarger Therapressure Protocol is a very specific somatosensory intervention that uses deep, deep touch pressure and joint proprioception at 90 minute to 2-hourly intervals (in waking hours), in combination with a sensory diet to encourage the sensory system to address the underlying sensory defensiveness. The program is continued as long as the child gets benefit and holds the changes (average range between 2 weeks and 6 months, in which time it is hoped that permanent neurological changes will have been made). To maximise the effects of the program and for the results to stick, the brushing process must be done 6-8 x/ day and therefore must be done at both home, school, kindy or daycare. The entire brushing process for a child takes 2-3 minutes.

This protocol was devised by Patricia and Julia Wilbarger from the USA and has been evolving over the past 25 years. It is currently in the descriptive stage of the research. The current theory surrounding this program has been drawn from studies into the effects of massage therapy and exercise. It is postulated that the brushing helps to stimulate the body to release endorphins. These last in the system 90 minutes – 2 hours. If the brushing occurs at the required frequency, then these endorphins are in the bloodstream consistently and stimulate the body to release calming and organising neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. The consistent effects of these neurotransmitters in the bloodstream mean the child becomes more organised and calmer and that sensory defensiveness is reduced or eliminated.

Julia and Patricia Wilbarger suggested that in their experience of those who follow the program as suggested (drawn from clear documentation from the thousands of children they have worked with)

• approximatily 40% of children appear to be mostly cured (with relapses in times of stress)
• approximately 40% make significant improvements
• 20% don’t seem to change much. (from Wilbarger training course, Brisbane, March 2007).

Kids Matters Occupational Therapists have seen a similar pattern.

To access the Wilbarger Therapressure protocol, call our admin team on 07 3392 6133 to make an appointment with one of our trained therapists. They will assess your child to determine suitability for the program. This is done in a clinic session as a paid Occupational Therapy appointment.