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The Allen School
824 N. Tyler St.
Little Rock, AR 72205
phone 501-664-2961
fax 501-664-6208

Wilbarger Brushing Protocol

What is the Wilbarger Brushing Protocol?

The Wilbarger Deep Pressure and Proprioceptive Technique & Oral Tactile Technique (OTT) (formerly referred to as the Wilbarger Brushing Protocol or WBP) are techniques developed by Patricia Wilbarger, MEd, OTR, FAOTA.  Dr. Wilbarger, is an occupational therapist and clinical psychologist who has been working with sensory processing theories for over 30 years. She is a cofounder of Sensory Integration International and AVANTI camp and well known for her clinical work in the NICU, schools, etc.  She lectures internationally on sensory processing disorders and sensory integration.  She has produced videotape, audiotape, and an intervention guide on the subject of sensory defensiveness.

Based on the theory of Sensory Integration, the brushing technique uses a specific method of stimulation to help the brain organize sensory information.  Ms Wilbarger and her daughter Julia Wilbarger, MS, OTRoffer training courses on a regular basis for professionals who wish to use it in their practice. Additionally, through their continuing research, the technique is occasionally revised in method, and it is important for therapists to be aware of the most current method.

The Theory:

Our skin is our largest sensory organ, followed closely by our muscles and skeleton, connected by our nervous system and governed by our brain.  The sensory systems feed information from our environment, through sense receptors, and neural impulses via our nervous system, directly to the brain.  The brain then organizes it, sends it back through the nervous system for use as understanding, adaptation, learning, and skill development.

When this system functions well, it allows a person to interact with their environment efficiently, developing necessary motor and language skills, and appropriate social/emotional behavior.  When this system is unable to organize the information appropriately, a variety of symptoms can present; motor delays, tactile defensiveness, learning disorders, social or emotional difficulties, speech, and language deficits or attention disorders.

The Purpose and Benefit:

The DPPT has been found very beneficial to children with sensory integrative dysfunction, as outlined in the previous paragraph.  This technique helps the brain and body work together more effectively.  Benefits noted are:

  • Can improve ability to transition between activities (calming after emotional outburst, improving tolerance levels.)
  • Can help children who have a fear of discomfort in being touched (tactile defensiveness)
  • Can increase self regulation, self calming.
  • Can increase the ability of the nervous system to use information from the senses more effectively, i.e. speech/motor skills.
  • Can improve attention and focus.
  • The students generally like the procedure!