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ISU NSSLHA has fun with fidget blankets

The Illinois State University chapter of the National Student Speech-Language-Hearing Association (NSSLHA) hosted a service-learning project to create Fidget Blankets for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The fidget blankets were made of six individual squares of cloth sewn together. Each square Quilt projectcontained an action item such as a zipper, something with texture, or pieces of decor.

Associate Professor Heidi Harbers, Ph.D., reached out to the NSSLHA executive board for this project. “When visiting my aunt who has Alzheimer’s, I saw how fidgety her hands were and did some of my own research to learn about fidget blankets and quilts,” Harbers said. “The numbers of individuals with dementia in health care settings are up and fidget blankets are a solution that gives those patients something to do.”

Tricia Larkin, an Illinois State University clinical educator, previously worked at skilled nursing homes as a speech language pathologist and noticed that individuals with dementia tended to be prescribed medication to manage their behaviors. “Dementia is a scary thing that can cause anxiety, and this fidget blanket can be a soothing alternative as opposed to individuals being sedated by medication.”

After the many hours of sewing, gluing, and pinning items to the blankets, NSSLHA members put together 70 fidget blankets. NSSLHA’s executive board will reach out to the Bloomington-Normal community and deliver blankets to nursing homes and assisted living centers in the area.

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