Published: Jan. 25, 2012
Updated: Jan. 25, 2012
Prematurity refers to babies born less than 37 weeks gestational age. Babies born at 32 weeks are generally admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
The NICU population includes infants who are acutely ill or fragile and easily compromised by environmental conditions. Preterm infants are at risk for numerous medical problems affecting a variety of systems including:
The primary goal of occupational and physical therapy in the NICU is to provide evaluation, consultation, and direct therapy in the areas of infant neurobehavioral organization, sensory development, motor function, social-emotional development and feeding.
The physical and occupational therapists that work in the NICU at Duke have specialized training in provision of services for these fragile infants. They work as a team with the nurses, physicians, and the family to provide optimal care and outcomes for these babies.
If indicated, the therapist will continue to follow these babies after discharge either through the Special Infant Care Clinic at Duke or through outpatient therapy at Lenox Baker Children’s Hopsital.