(As written in the article published in the NDTA Network, January/February 2007 edition)
Our earliest experiences in flexible compression bracing began in the mid 1980’s. However, it wasn’t until 1994 that deeper exploration of this therapeutic tool began. Cheryl Allen, parent of Brian, a boy receiving physical therapy treatment, was on a quest to find a material that could “mimic” the deep pressure sensory information that physical therapist Nancy Hylton was providing through her hands to Cheryl’s son. After three or four attempts, Cheryl began fabricating Lycra compression shorts that significantly improved Brian’s ability to control movement and bear weight
through his trunk and lower extremities.
Cheryl’s second son, Ian, began receiving physical therapy with Nancy Hylton at three months of age due to early sensory-motor difficulties, including strong opisthotonic posturing, impaired postural control, difficulties with movement, and marked hypersensitivity to environmental stimuli. At 10 months of age, Ian could sit alone for several seconds but did not have any transitional movements or a means of floor mobility.
One morning during therapy, Nancy wrapped Ian several times with a four-inch wide Ace Wrap from one shoulder diagonally, between his legs, to the other shoulder, finishing off with circular wraps around his trunk. Once placed on the floor, Ian immediately began to commando crawl across the floor. Cheryl went home and fabricated Ian a Lycra body suit in an effort to duplicate the effect of the Ace Wrap in therapy.Within a week, Ian was rocking on his hands and knees and crawling reciprocally.
In addition, Ian was less easily over-stimulated by environmental noises and began to explore his environment in a much more secure and meaningful way.When the Lycra was removed, Ian did begin to lose function. However, Ian gradually began to show more carryover in function when the Lycra body suit was off as a more organized motor plan emerged. Today Ian can function with his suit off; however, he does continue to function better with it on.
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