Sensory modulation can help patients control their arousal levels, self-regulate their emotions and prevent the need for long term seclusion

Ms Deepa Ramakrishnan1

1Forensic Hospital, Malabar, Australia

People living with psychotic illnesses often experience distortions in their perceptions of sensory information and also experience hyper or hypo sensitivity to particular sensations.  Sensory modulation exploration targeting the vestibular, proprioception, tactile, auditory and oral systems took place individually and has played a beneficial role in terminating Amelia’s long term seclusion placement. ‘Amelia’s’ challenging behaviors include kicking and punching staff and patients, throwing objects and harming animals.

The method used to discern ‘Amelia’s’ experience included observation, MOHOST tool to evaluate participation in activities, along with verbal discussion to determine ‘Amelia’s’ experiences.  The 5Ws which is an amnestic tool exploring aggressive incidents was also reviewed to obtain an understanding about the nature of incidents.  The sensory profile assessment was deemed unsuitable as Amelia’ is unable to maintain focus to answer the lengthy questionnaire and has also had a long term seclusion placement.

Sensory modulation has been integrated into ‘Amelia’s’ routine and has played a significant role in assisting Amelia to control her arousal levels and self-regulate her emotions. This has allowed Amelia to terminate her long term seclusion placement and reside with other patients.  ‘Amelia’ enjoys deep pressure/movement against resistance which has been noted to assist with dampening over-arousal. She regularly wears the weighted vest and weighted blanket and uses the massage chair daily.  She also enjoys activities which increases vestibular input like the rocking chair however dislikes taking part in other movement-based activities.  Amelia uses the sensory room (low stimulus environment) once or twice daily, and preferred scents are assimilated into her routine.

Sensory modulation has been highly beneficial for ‘Amelia’ and has contributed towards reduced rates of aggressive incidences. Her capacity to use sensory equipment without prompting has improved. She is also able to maintain focus for longer periods in meaningful activities when sensory modulation is integrated.


Occupational Therapist working in the Forensic Mental health system

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Recent Comments