Effects of deep pressure stimulation on physiological arousal

Am J Occup Ther. 2015 May-Jun;69(3):6903350010p1-5. doi: 10.5014/ajot.2015.015560.


Deep pressure stimulation has been used in therapeutic practice because of the assumption that it changes physiological arousal. The purpose of this study was to test the effects of deep pressure stimulation, applied with a Vayu Vest (Therapeutic Systems), on both autonomic arousal and performance in a normative adult sample. A repeated-measures, repeated-baseline design was used with participants completing a performance test before and after deep pressure application. A convenience sample of 50 adults participated in the study. Results showed that wearing the Vayu Vest for even short periods of time reduced sympathetic arousal and non-stimulus-driven electrical occurrences. Concomitant increases in parasympathetic arousal were found. Performance improvements were noted after wearing the Vayu Vest, potentially because of changes in arousal. We conclude that deep pressure stimulation is capable of eliciting changes in autonomic arousal and may be a useful modality in diagnostic groups seen by occupational therapy practitioners.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arousal*
  • Autonomic Nervous System
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Galvanic Skin Response
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physical Stimulation*
  • Pressure*
  • Respiratory Sinus Arrhythmia
  • Sympathetic Nervous System*
  • Touch*
  • Young Adult