Therapeutic body wraps (TBW) for treatment of severe injurious behaviour in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD): A 3-month randomized controlled feasibility study

PLoS One. 2018 Jun 29;13(6):e0198726. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0198726. eCollection 2018.


Introduction: The use of therapeutic body wraps (TBW) has been reported in small series or case reports, but has become controversial.

Objectives: This is a feasibility, multicentre, randomized, controlled, open-label trial with blinded outcome assessment (PROBE design).

Setting: Children with autism and severe-injurious behaviours (SIB) were enrolled from 13 specialized clinics.

Interventions: Dry-sheet TBW (DRY group) vs. wet-sheet TBW (WET group).

Primary outcome measures: 3-month change in the Aberrant Behaviour Checklist irritability score (ABC-irritability) within per-protocol (PP) sample.

Results: From January 2008 to January 2015, we recruited 48 children (age range: 5.9 to 9.9 years, 78.1% male). Seven patients (4 in the DRY group, 3 in the WET group) were dropped from the study early and were excluded from PP analysis. At endpoint, ABC-irritability significantly improved in both groups (means (standard deviation) = -11.15 (8.05) in the DRY group and -10.57 (9.29) in the WET group), as did the other ABC scores and the Children Autism Rating scale score. However, there was no significant difference between groups. All but 5 patients were rated as much or very much improved. A repeated-measures analysis confirmed the significant improvement in ABC-irritability scores according to time (p < .0001), with no significant difference between the two groups (group effect: p = .55; interaction time x group: p = .27). Pooling both groups together, the mean 3-month change from baseline in ABC-irritability score was -10.90 (effect size = 1.59, p < .0001).

Conclusions: We found that feasibility was overall satisfactory with a slow recruitment rate and a rather good attrition rate. TBW was a safe complementary therapy in this population. There was no difference between wet and dry TBW at 3 months, and ABC-irritability significantly decreased with both wet and dry sheet TBW. To assess whether TBW may constitute an alternative to medication or behavioural intervention for treating SIB in ASD patients, a larger randomized comparative trial (e.g. TBW vs. antipsychotics) is warranted.

Trial registration: NCT03164746.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attention Deficit and Disruptive Behavior Disorders* / physiopathology
  • Attention Deficit and Disruptive Behavior Disorders* / psychology
  • Attention Deficit and Disruptive Behavior Disorders* / therapy
  • Autistic Disorder* / physiopathology
  • Autistic Disorder* / psychology
  • Autistic Disorder* / therapy
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Clothing*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Time Factors

Associated data


Grant support

This work was supported by the French Ministry of Health under the Programme Hospitalier de Recherche Clinique (PHRC: no. 2007/1918). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.