Sensory Processing Disorder Parent Support
Sensory Processing Disorder Parent Support

Wilbarger Brushing & Joint Compressions

Children with sensory differences ... painting the world beautiful.  

Wilbarger Brushing & Joint Compressions

Jeanette Loftus 

child with sensory processing brushing Wilbarger Brushing & Joint Compressions
Wilbarger Brushing Protocol Technique (DPPT)  and Joint Compressions are two very common sensory integration therapy techniques that are highly recommended by occupational therapists for children who struggle with Sensory Processing Disorder. 
Wilbarger brushing and joint compressions are two therapeutic techniques commonly used by occupational therapists to help individuals with sensory processing issues.

 These techniques can be used to provide sensory input and improve sensory regulation, which can have a significant impact on a person’s daily functioning.

The purpose is to alter and normalize sensory processing which will assist with the child or adults ability to function within home or school setting. Brushing can have an impact on the child's social and work behaviors. Most parents notice a difference in focus, self awareness and self control.


Wilbarger brushing, also known as the Wilbarger Deep Pressure and Proprioceptive Technique (DPPT), involves using a soft-bristled brush to apply a specific brushing pattern to the skin. This technique should only be performed by a trained occupational therapist, as it has specific guidelines and precautions that must be followed to ensure safety and effectiveness.

The child should be in a seated position if possible. Explain to your child about brushing and how you will do it for them and talk about the steps as you are doing them. It is best to do the procedure in a calm and quiet area.
The therapist will determine the appropriate pressure and brushing pattern for the individual based on their sensory needs. The brushing pattern typically starts at the hands and moves up the arms, down the back, and then down the legs.

The therapist will use the brush to apply firm pressure in a rhythmic, linear motion, following the determined brushing pattern. The brushing should be done for a specific amount of time, typically around two minutes, and should be repeated multiple times throughout the day.

Wilbarger Brushing Protocol Procedure

Brush arms covering as much surface area as possible, 5 stroke in a up/down motion, covering the area 2X.
Brush Palms 5X
Brush back 5X up and down and 5X side to side.
Brush other arm.
Brush legs below the knee covering as much surface as possible, % strokes in a up/down motion covering 2X.
Brush feet holding one hand on top and the other using the brush in a in a sweeping movement. Move top hand in sync with the bottom one 5X.

Benefits of Brushing

 Wilbarger brushing is believed to help regulate the nervous system and improve sensory processing in individuals with sensory processing issues. It can also help with sensory seeking behaviors, such as fidgeting, pacing, and seeking out intense sensory experiences.

The brushing sensation can also provide a calming and organizing effect, reducing anxiety and promoting a sense of well-being. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals who struggle with emotional regulation and self-regulation.

Results of Brushing
The results of Wilbarger brushing can vary from person to person, but many individuals report feeling more focused, calm, and less irritable after the brushing technique. Some individuals may also experience improved motor planning and coordination, as well as better body awareness.

Over time, consistent use of brushing can help individuals develop better sensory regulation and reduce their reliance on sensory-seeking behaviors. It can also help individuals become more tolerant of sensory input, making daily activities and interactions more manageable.

40% of children really benefit from brushing and parents see a lot of changes. 40% of children benefit some from brushing and parents notice some changes. Unfortunately 20% of children do not benefit from brushes and parents see no changes. 

Behavioral, Physical, Social/Emotional Changes

- more motivated
- improved organization
- improved focus
- less sensitive to smells
- less sensitive to touch
- less irritable
- longer attention span
- decreased hyperactivity
- decrease impulsivity
- improved transitions
- participation in more activities
- improved sleep patterns
- increased tolerance of grooming tasks
- increased independence
- improved gross motor skills
- improved eating habits
- less wiggling
- improvement in handwriting
- more affectionate
- increased tolerance to clothing
- improved talking/communication
- improved tolerance of people
- less overwhelmed
- less anxious
- increased self-confidence/self esteem
- more patient
- more calm and relaxed
- improved mood
- decreased frustration
- increased interactions with others- improved eye contact
Sensory processing is the ability to take in, organize, and respond to sensory information from the environment and one’s own body. Individuals with sensory processing issues may have difficulty processing and responding to sensory input, which can impact their daily functioning.

Occupational therapists are trained to assess and treat sensory processing issues using a variety of techniques, including Wilbarger brushing and joint compressions. These techniques are just one part of a comprehensive sensory integration therapy program, which may also include other activities such as swinging, jumping, and playing with different textures.

Occupational therapists work closely with individuals and their families to develop individualized treatment plans based on each person’s specific sensory needs. They also collaborate with other professionals, such as teachers and speech therapists, to ensure a holistic approach to treatment.

Wilbarger brushing and joint compressions can be effective techniques for addressing sensory processing issues. These techniques, when performed by a trained occupational therapist, can provide sensory input and help individuals develop better sensory regulation.
 If you or a loved one is struggling with sensory processing, it may be beneficial to consult with an occupational therapist to determine if these techniques would be helpful in managing symptoms and improving daily functioning.
Joint Compressions 
Place your hand on the top of either shoulder and press down together 10X
Place hand on top of other shoulder and under elbow arm at the students side and press together 10X
Place fingers in a scissor position behind knuckle joints and hold finger straight with other hand.
Keeping joints straight press together 10X
Do the same for the other arm next.
Place hand on hip and other at the front knee. Press together 10X, Alternatively press front of knee with
students bottom pressing against the back of the chair. Place hands on the top of both knees press down 10X.
Place other hand under clavicles on chest and other on back between shoulder blades, Press together and down 3X.
Wilbarger Protocol should be done every 90-120 minutes, 8-10 times per day for maximum effectiveness. 

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DISCLAIMER: I am not an Occupational Therapist. I am an adult who has Sensory Processing Disorder, a sensory parent and a Grandma. The information on this website is not medical advice and does not replace the information that your child's therapists gives you. These are just ideas and information that I have learned myself over the years of being a parent and an adult living with SPD. If you are concerned for your child, please always seek medical attention through a family doctor, pediatrician or therapist. This website is for suggestions and informational purposes only. Each child is different and what works for one child may not for another because all children have different needs. Please always consult with a professional. Amazon offers a small commission on products sold through their affiliate links on my website.  Each of your purchases through links on my website for Amazon affiliation links or sponsored links support me but no additional cost to you so thank you. I appreciate it so much!