Vibroacoustic therapy has been known and used since 1980. The equipment in use has been subject to great improvements during the years which have passed since then. It was developed by the Norwegian teacher, Olav Skille. He explored the use of Vibroacoustic stimulation for severely disabled children with whom he worked. The equipment was first used as an aid for physical stimulation of children with multiple physical and mental handicaps.
Our school has a Vibroacoustic therapy (VAT) room that contains a water bed embedded with speakers or transducers which transmit specific computer-generated frequencies into vibrations. We use specially developed Somatron CDs. The assistant providing the therapy ensures that the pupil feels secure and is prepared for the session and that the CD is not turned on until the pupil is comfortable on the bed and the environment aids relaxation. A pillow is positioned behind the pupil’s head to ensure that the head does not make direct contact with the bed / chair and hence the low frequency vibrations. A blanket is provided as the treatment can involve the loss of body heat. The treatment lasts between 20 and 30 minutes. It is not unusual for the pupil to fall asleep during the session. It may take a little while for a pupil to adjust after such a deeply relaxing form of therapy.
A session sheet is completed in an unobtrusive manner and the targets for the session relate either to an IEP assessment target or a wellbeing target agreed with the class teacher (see Appendix A). The assistant is very careful with her choice of words and tone of voice and endeavours to build a trusting, sensitive, therapeutic relationship. The evaluation forms completed by parents and/ or teachers already suggest that pupils are better able to participate when they return to their classes. An attendance sheet is completed for all therapies (see Appendix B)
The therapy uses sound to produce vibrations that are applied directly to the body Since the human body is over 70% water and since sound travels 5 times more efficiently through water than through air, sound frequency stimulation directly into the body is a highly efficient means for total body stimulation at a deep cellular level and a healthy resonance can be restored in the body.
Vibroacoustics can be utilised with music and is used for stress reduction, relaxation and even meditation. Specific music (using specific sound frequencies) can be utilized in therapeutic situations for pupils with Retts syndrome, autism (ASD) Attention deficiency hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), emotional and behavioural difficulties (EBD). Children suffering tension, anxiety and depression open up more and talk more freely when using vibroacoustic/Somatron therapy. The therapy provides the necessary stimulation to reduce stereotypical behaviours, aggression and self-injury. We use the recommended Somatron CDs.
VAT is also used with pupils suffering from cerebral palsy, aphasia, asthma, anxiety, arthritis, insomnia, undergoing cancer treatment or recovering from surgery. The benefits gained are reported to include the relief of muscle tension, the stimulation of circulation, the diminishing of gastrointestinal problems, reductions in anxiety and success in screening out sounds that may otherwise be upsetting to some pupils. It is not suitable for those suffering with low blood pressure or anti- inflammatory conditions and a screening form should be completed before a session is allowed to proceed.
VA-therapy has a physical direction which is more profound than most other therapies which use music and sounds as the therapeutic medium as music and the massaging frequencies are transferred directly to the body of the client.
For more information on the benefits of the therapy please visit http://www.olavat.com/#!olav-skille-welcomes-you/sitepage_1 and also http://www.soundbeam.co.uk/vibroacoustic/downloads/what-is-vibroacoustic-therapy.pdf and http://www.somatron.com/music.html
For a list of contraindications please read:
Wigram, A. (1995b) Current list of Contraindications for Vibroacoustic Therapy. Radlett:
Horizon NHS Trust, Unpublished.