Can Therapeutic Systems' Vayu Vest change the way autism is treated?
For the parents of autistic children, few treatment options exist other than powerful anti-psychotic medications or alternative therapies with little supporting clinical evidence. Brian Mullen is hoping to break this pattern with the Vayu Vest, a device that uses a treatment method called "deep pressure touch simulation," one of the most well-established alternative therapies. Mullen hopes that his device will become the first FDA-approved medical device to treat autism.
"If you look at other diseases, engineering has had a tremendous impact in improving quality of care, but there's really no treatment for mental illness except deep brain stimulation and drugs," Mullen said. "We are trying to create the first evidence-based, insurance reimbursable medical device for mental health spectrum disorders."
Deep pressure touch stimulation was developed in the 1960s for people with autism and other conditions that make it difficult to process sensory information. Currently, the treatment method most commonly used by occupational therapist is to apply a weighted blanket to the patient experiencing sensory overload and agitation.