Hugs for Autism

BioHug Technologies, an innovative technologies firm located in Haifa, Israel, has developed a product to help assist in the treatment of autism. The company has created the BioHug Vest, which is said to be a stress relief solution for those with autism. The company states on its website: “The BioHug Vest is an effective, portable, and non-restraining stress relief solution. It soothes through the use of deep, hug-like pressure.” The vest was created by an engineer who has a son with autism, along with the help of experts in the medical field. According to researchers, hugging is a highly effective soother for individuals affected by autism, post-traumatic stress, anxiety, or attention disorders. For those who are autistic, human touch is often hard to bear, as human connection or touch may be difficult to deal with. This is why BioHug Technologies came up with the BioHug Vest, so these individuals could receive the same effect of a human hug without requiring human interaction.

The BioHug Vest consists of a combining a lightweight air compressor, a small computer, and a number of tiny valves. These valves place compressed air bubbles beneath the lining of the fabric of the vest. This allows the location and duration of the pressure the vest distributes to be constantly varied, and as a result, the effects of the relaxing pressure lasts longer. If the pressure were not varied, the body would stop paying attention to it after a certain amount of time, which would cause stress and anxiety to return. The vest can be operated in either automatic or manual mode. In manual mode, the wearer of the vest or the caretaker can control the location and duration of the “hug” via remote control. The BioHug Vest also with its own rechargeable battery that lasts for a maximum of four hours. It is light and comfortable to wear, easy to use, easy to resize, and easy to clean.

The initial vest was designed specifically for adults, but now BioHug is looking to make the vest for younger individuals in smaller sizes using lighter materials. Clinical testing has shown the BioHug Vest to be an effective method of lowering the stress levels of people both with and without autism. Another area where testing is being done is on individuals with post-trauma, such as those who experienced the November 2012 rocket attacks in southern Israel. BioHug teamed up with OneFamily, an organization founded to help victims of terror, to use the vest as a calming method for those suffering post-traumatic stress symptoms. The firm is expecting to start clinical trials at Tel Aviv’s Ichilov hospital to see if the BioHug vest helps those who suffer from chronic pain.

The BioHug Vest expected to make its way into a broader market shortly. As the vest is only being made in small quantities, it is expensive, which is why BioHug is aiming to get it into the hands of more people, so that it can become more affordable overall for everyone.