Wilbarger Technique — The Bump
Special Needs

Wilbarger Technique

Hi, by way of introduction, I have a 10 month old daughter receives PT for high tone in her back/shoulders.  When she was very little, she would basically bend her self completely backwards so her head would almost touch her butt. 

Anyway, she receives PT and we are trying to get her to crawl or pull up.  She had a freak out when pulling up and the PT wants to try  the Wilbarger Technique.  My sister who works with special needs children and toddlers says she has never heard of it used on an infant.  And all the research I can find talks about older children and says if its not done correctly it can cause serious side effects but doesn't say what they are.  



Re: Wilbarger Technique

  • About a month ago our LO's OT started this program with him.  Aiden did not tolerate it at all (but likely bc he didnt have a bond or trust this OT.)  Our current/new OT said we will hold off on the brushing/joint compressions program.  But, we have started deep pressure/massage etc with him...which he loves....just trying to give him some input so he will start to have a better sense of where his body is in space.  For now that is all we are doing.

    I am also a special ed teacher and have never had an OT approach me about this programs with the infants I worked with...though I have done it with numerous toddlers/preschool age students.  So, I guess according to one of our old OT's 8-9 months of age is not too early to start it.  I do not really know what age is appropriate since I am not an OT.  GL!  

    Edit:  My son has high tone too.   


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  • I replied to your post on 9-12...  in reading what you wrote more, the quick strokes involved in the technique may increase tone as an immediate effect...  Tone reduction is usually more deep massage, slow rhythmical movements...
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  • Since our OT wasn't very interested in setting up a "sensory diet" for DD, I set one up myself. I bought a wilbarger-like therapy brush and as part of our diet, we do deep rubs with it. DD has several issues, which prevent me from doing the joint compressions that you're supposed to follow with in the actual protocol. We also don't do it anywhere near the frequency that you are supposed to. She seems very hightened when we start each time, but relaxed by the time we finish. 

    I've seen it used with several kids with ASD and have seen good results, but those kids all had a rich sensory diet, so there's no way I could say it was the brushing specifically.

    I can't imagine what the side effects would be, though. . . Brush burn? ;)



    "In a wild sea of eyes I'd see one pair that I recognize and know that I am the luckiest"- Ben Folds
  • We use the technique and joint compressions with our little guy, Dean (13 months). The brushing in particular is for stimulating since he has really low tone, so I can't see why it would be helpful for high tone. 
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