Innovative visual and tactile stimulation


Jill Wheeler (mother of Dr. Nicola Wheeler, Clinical Psychologist), makes twiddle muffs for service users at Hunters Moor Neurological Rehabilitation Centre in Birmingham to provide visual and tactile stimulation.

Each twiddle muff is unique in terms of the colours used and the items sewn on the outside and inside of the muff, which provide a range of tactile stimulation. These muffs can also be personalised according to a service users likes and preferences e.g. colour, buttons, beads, letters, motifs etc.

These twiddle muffs are an evidence based intervention for clients with dementia, but in addition to providing stimulation to our clients with dementia and other neurodegenerative disorders (e.g. Huntington’s), they are also very beneficial for our clients who are in prolonged disorders of consciousness. Twiddle muffs have proven to be a useful therapeutic intervention for reducing restlessness and agitation (i.e. behaviours that challenge), and providing much needed occupation and stimulation.


Whilst Jill continues to make twiddle muffs, she has also embraced new needlecraft challenges when these have presented themselves.

For a service user, who sustained a traumatic brain injury, and needed to practise opening and closing fastenings to help her meet her goals around getting herself dressed and tying her shoe laces, Dr. Wheeler formulated the idea of an activity mat, and Jill made the muff on the left.

Much positive feedback has been received from the service users Occupational Therapist, who is working with her to meet these goals. The presentation of these fastenings as an activity mat has provided the service user with meaningful stimulation and a way of practising and developing her skills in a less threatening way and more regularly than just during her personal care.

After a few days of using the mat, the service user asked if it might be possible to make some additions to offer her further support. The additions were a fixing for a bra and also buckles. Trying to obtain buckles proved a challenge! Many belts were too thick to sew on. In the end, a kitten collar (on elastic so allowing practice with different holes) proved the answer and the service user loved the sparkly fixing. Below is the finished result.


Here at Christchurch Group we are very proud of our caring staff who like to ‘think outside of the box’ and provide innovative ways to help our service users during their recovery.

We would like to say a big thank you to Jill Wheeler for making these twiddle muffs in her spare time.

We ask that if you have any old beads and buttons, ribbon, broken necklaces, zips, old items of clothing that can be cut up for zips or buttons and button holes etc. that you please send them to Hunters Moor for the attention of Dr Wheeler, Hunters Moor Neurological Rehabilitation Unit, Whisley Brook Lane, Hall Green, Birmingham, B28 8SR. This would be appreciated by our staff and service users.



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