The use of hammocks in occupational therapy in the treatment of children with ADHD

My name is Kristin Heehler and I have been having fun blogging for the online shop, Hängematte.de.

Now I’ve been asked to write articles for the LA SIESTA blog. I thought that sounded great, especially when I heard what my first topic would be: the use of hammocks in occupational therapy in the treatment of children with ADHD. I think that’s really fascinating!

The versatile use of the hammock in occupational therapy

ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) has been a topic of conversation for years. It is a disorder that affects many people (and not only children!). You could almost say that it’s an epidemic. During the time when I worked at a bookstore, I met many parents whose children were suffering from ADHS. But what is the story behind all of this? I wasn’t sure, so I did some intense research.

I learned quickly that ADHD is associated with a lot of prejudices. There are many people who think that this disease is a product of the current times. Others believe that ADHD is the result of poor parenting. Actually, none of this is true, ADHD is a neurological disturbance.

ergotherapie.org explains ADHD as follows:
The brain of those affected cannot filter all of the impulses from its surroundings and cannot differentiate between important and unimportant things. This over-stimulation cannot be adequately processed, which results in behavioral disturbances. Deficits often appear, such as the impairment of math or reading and writing skills. These produce additional stress. One doesn’t grow out of ADHD, it remains throughout adulthood.

I was interested in how ADHD was normally treated, because certain forms of therapy, especially occupational therapy, have produced good results. First of all, disturbances in motor function and cognition are treated. The patients get to know their body and its limitations better within a controlled setting. The main goal of treatment is the improvement of gross and fine motor skills, as well as the ability to communicate. In order to treat ADHD holistically, various therapeutic approaches are combined. For example, educational therapy may be combined with various active games and behavioral therapeutic elements.

Music is even used in occupational therapy, enabling patients to better express and work through their problems. I am discovering that there are many elements in treatment which are intertwined.

The hammock is also increasingly being used in the treatment of ADHD. One plausible reason: The use of a hammock stimulates many of the senses which are important for a child’s ability to concentrate. This means that when these systems are stimulated or are well-integrated throughout the body, then the ability to concentrate also functions.

The hammock is frequently used in occupational therapy

I think this is great! Because the use of hammocks has proven to be of value in the treatment of children with ADHD, LA SIESTA has sponsored a clinical trial. We wanted to make a contribution to those children that are affected, so that the use of hammocks in occupational therapy can be selectively applied. Mara Lodder, an occupational therapy student, will carry out this study. She wants to prove that hamocks can play an important role in the improvement of ADHD.

How did she decide on this topic? Mara Lodder was just so interested in this topic that she is including it in her bachelor’s thesis. Furthermore, she wanted to do something practical and in particular, something involving children.

Most kids love to lie in a hammock!

I wanted to know what the current state of technology is. It has already been proven that the stimulations that occur in a hammock activate the sensory systems. Yet, there are no clinical studies which provide evidence that the use of hammock in occupational therapy improves the clinical picture of those with ADHD. Every occupational therapist knows, however, that it works. Occupational therapy is just in its beginning stages as a scientifically-based profession. Mara Lodder is convinced that every occupational therapist knows its effectiveness, but concrete evidence needs to be found.

The fact is: Almost every occupational therapist you talk to agrees that the hammock belongs in the treatment of ADHD. Unfortunately, until now no one has proven this scientifically. The subject of hammocks has been neglected in research, resulting in gaps which need to be closed. The time has come to change this!

We are convinced that hammocks should be used in the treatent of ADHD and kids should be allowed freedom of movement. The hammock is a great place to let off steam and also to do play-oriented exercises with an occupational therapist.

It’s fun to rollick in a hammock!

With the aid of this clinical study, we would like to find out what contribution the hammock can make to the treatment of ADHD.

Related sources:
http://www.ergotherapie.org/2010/10/krankheitsbild-adhs/
http://www.ergotherapie.org/2013/02/adhs/

Do you want to learn more about ADHD? Additional videos on this topic can be found here:

I will reveal how the study is proceeding in Part Two of this series.

There are many ways to sit in a hammock. How many of them do you know?

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