Monday, February 20, 2012

Do-it-yourself deep pressure vest

At physical therapy a while back, Mason tried out something called a Bear Hug Vest. It was great because he has low body awareness (he can't easily sense where the parts of his body are in space, or what muscles to activate for different movements) - so the compression vest gives him that input he needs for his upper trunk to make it easier for him to sit (which he fights aggressively and tries to squirm down in that position), bear weight on his legs (for brief periods against a chair or couch) and play upright.

The actual bear hug vests range from 75-250 online so I adapted an idea I found online to make him one myself. The idea suggested using a $5 neoprene waist slimmer belt from Walmart but when I got there to buy it I found something that is even better  for a small guy like Mason -
a two pack of thigh slimmers (also neoprene) by Gold's gym.

I used the first thigh slimmer (which fits up to 38") as the trunk wrap exactly as it came out of the box. I cut the other slimmer in half down the middle about halfway to make shoulder straps; I sewed a square of velcro to one end and reinforced the velcro square that came with it on the other end (since I had to cut it in half). Experts say to use nylon thread but mine worked out okay with all purpose ... I would recommend using thread in the color of the neoprene for a more finished look but i was just trying to make it functional.

It makes for a very custom fit and seems to work well! Just wanted to pass this idea along since it was so easy and inexpensive...much more accessible than the pro versions and does basically the same thing. Those of you who sew better (not me!!) could really make it cute too...

Look squirming....
but this sitting thing is gonna take
a lot of practice before i will agree to do it
 by myself...


  1. Jen, every time you come up with something like this I am SO impressed. Very great solution!! Love the new look of your page too. :)

  2. What a great idea! I'm going to share this post with other special needs parents...

  3. Any creative DIY materials ideas for a vest for a medium sized adult guy? (5'5" / 37" chest / 34" belly)

  4. I'd try buying two of these, Anonymous....use one for main trunk support and cut the 2nd in half to make two shoulder straps. Sew on velcro to straps and it'd be the same basic method as above...just with bigger "belt." Hope it works!

  5. My daughter in law is an aide to a first grader. The school ordered a vest for him last fall but it has yet to arrive. I followed your instructions and made a vest in just a few minutes. As the three of us walked back to his classroom we both heard him say "bear hug". My DIL has thanked me numerous times, I'm glad I found your suggestion. Wonderful for him too.

    1. Oh I'm so happy to hear that!! I hope it works great :D


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