NICI to make weighted blankets

IDOC and hospital administrators sit at table
By Christine Reuter, NICI Office Specialist 2

North Idaho Correctional Institution (NICI) will team up with Idaho State Hospital North to create weighted blankets for patients who need to continue this therapy after they leave the mental health facility in Orofino. 

Weighted blankets were originally developed as a treatment for some of the anxiety tendencies associated with individuals diagnosed with autism. However, multiple studies have shown weighted blankets can also be used to reduce or manage the symptoms of autism, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sleep disorders, anxiety, and nervous system disorders. 

Typically “weighted” with plastic poly pellets sewn into compartments to keep the weight properly distributed; the weight of the blanket acts as deep touch therapy and is determined by the weight of each patient. When deep pressure points are triggered they actually cause the brain to release more serotonin, a neurotransmitter that improves mood and encourages relaxation and calm. 

Susan Stamper, program coordinator for the NICI quilting class stated, “State Hospital North will be providing the sheets, pellets, and batting.”

Everything else will be taken care of by the inmates who are involved in the quilting classes at NICI. They will enroll in the Robert Janss School’s Technical Reading course where students will learn how to make the blankets through instruction, videos, and lessons. 

NICI plans to produce at least four of these weighted blankets per month for Idaho State Hospital North to distribute.

State Hospital North representatives and NICI employees pictured from left to right: Kevin Kracke, Geni Woodward, Susan Stamper, Bill Farmer, Lt. Brian Crowl, Merilyn Miller, and Warden Aaron Krieger

Story published: 09/08/2017
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