Developmental Care in the NICU
Premature infants and sick full term infants, who require a lengthy stay in the hospital, are at an increased risk for developmental delays. Early therapeutic services can be initiated in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) setting to prevent delays, serve as an effort to minimize deficits, and to provide parent and caregiver training and education.
Speech-Language Pathologists in the NICU help infants with:
- reduced opportunities for interaction & communication
- decreased ability to tolerate interaction
- decreased level of alertness and decreased responses to interactions
- feeding difficulties especially those associated with cleft lip/palate or other craniofacial anomaly
- oral stimulation/oral motor activities especially those associated with cleft lip/palate or other craniofacial anomaly
Speech-language pathologists in the NICU also serve as resources to parents, caregivers and other healthcare providers by offering ongoing training and education.
A physician referral is required for a child to receive speech therapy services in the NICU. Therapy is tailored to meet each child’s specific needs and may not be the same as another child’s therapy requirements.