Monday, December 6, 2010

NICU-neonatal intensive care unit

Before I went out on Peds fieldwork, we had a speaker come in and talk to us about the NICU--neonatal intensive care unit. This is basically a hospital unit dedicated to caring for ill or premature newborn infants.

Apparently this is a difficult area to get into as a new grad, which is not surprising considering the amount of knowledge and experience you need to care for these infants.

One assessment used to evaluate NICU infants is the Ballard assessment. This assessment helps you determine the baby's gestational age so you can know which kind of care it needs. Basically, you look at various systems, appearance, function and so on such as skin, lanugo, genitals, eyes and ears, tone, etc and give each area a score, sum the scores and compare the final score to a chart which tells you the baby's week of gestation. It's very interesting.

OTs in NICU assess a baby's development, calming ability, orthopedic and neurological conditions, positioning and educate staff and parents. I learned that with all the hype surrounding SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) baby's don't get the 'tummy time' that they need and they often end up with flattened heads or developmental delays. Babies need at least 2 hours of SUPERVISED tummy time per day.

Finally, an interesting calming strategy is to try to recreate an environment for the baby that is as close to the womb as possible. Remember the womb is where the baby ate regularly, was warm, comfortable and safe. You can accomplish this by the 5 S's: swaddle the baby, sway the baby, give the baby something to suck, position the baby in sidelying and 'shhh' the baby. Apparently the little boogers like these actions and it calms them. I've certainly noticed this with my niece!

1 comment:

  1. Hi,

    I'm an OT from the UK - just wanted to say I've enjoyed the blog and will keep coming back for regular updates. Good luck with everything and keep up the good work.