The months of April and May are filled with March of Dimes’ March for Babies Events. These events raise funds to research and prevent prematurity, assist families who have premature infants and assist women in achieving healthy pregnancies with full term deliveries. The next few posts this week are dedicated to my friends and families I have worked with that have endured the NICU with their little ones. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your family’s life and allowing me to learn more from you than you have learned from me!
One of the most treasured aspects of my career so far has been my time spent as the Lead Physical Therapist in a level 3 NICU. Seeing beautiful miracles weeks before they are supposed to be born is truly a blessing. More importantly, being able to shape their development so intimately by providing positive and beneficial touch while they are in the NICU is extremely rewarding. Instructing families on positive touch and instructing activities that they can do with their babies provides families with a sense of confidence that they can participate in some of the care for their babies during a time feels perhaps overwhelming.
My role as a physical therapist in the NICU was to provide care for the premature and medically involved babies that assists in preventing unnecessary delays. Further, I provided education for parents on the importance of early therapeutic intervention which can maximize the abilities of their child. One cannot be an effective pediatric NICU therapist if they are not aware of the possible structural concerns, sensory concerns and motor concerns that can result from being in the NICU. I have followed hundreds of premature infants through direct treatment and NICU follow up clinic throughout their development, allowing me to continue to learn how I can better care for the babies while they are in the NICU.
Over the next few days, I will provide some suggestions for common problems seen in NICU graduates and some exercises you can do with your former premature infant. Please remember if you have any concerns about the suggestions posted, please ask your doctor or therapist for the appropriateness of the exercise for your baby.
If you are interested in finding a March for Babies in your area, please go to http://marchforbabies.org.