Background In the Netherlands it is no longer allowed to use freedom restricting measures such as fixation of patients in bed. However, risk of falls and mental and physical restlessness in bed are common problems in patients with Huntington’s disease (HD), so looking for safe alternatives is needed. A ball blanket seems to be a good alternative. This blanket is filled with plastic balls or polystyrene granules. It stimulates the sensoric system and improves physical wellness in HD patients. The weight of the balls provides pressure on the pressure points of the body allowing different senses to be stimulated, such as stimulation of the sense of touch, muscles and joints. This stimulation has a suppressive and regulatory effect on impulses to the central nerve centre which increases body awareness.
Case history We offered the ball blanket to 4 HD patients with nocturnal restlessness due to physical and mental limitations. These limitations were: difficulty to relax, severe chorea, increased muscle tone and increased alertness, frequently getting out of bed and problems with staying asleep. All HD patients experienced a benefit of the ball blanket. They felt safe and more relaxed. The chorea decreased, the breathing became calmer and deeper, with the effect that patients be-came drowsy and easily fell asleep.
Conclusions Considering our experiences, the ball blanket is likely to be of benefit for HD patients. The blanket may have a positive effect on quality of life of HD patients. However, further research is needed.
- ball blanket
- physical wellness
- quality of life