Pediatric Physical Rehabilitation

Occupational, physical, and speech therapists are licensed professionals specially trained to work in the NICU. OTs and PTs evaluate a premature baby’s muscle tone, range of motion, reflexes, resting postures, quality of movement, coping skills and ability to self-regulate according to the baby's gestational age. They also prevent and correct positional or congenital deformities. Speech pathologists focus on feeding, oral stimulation programs, and swallow studies as indicated. Our treatments in the NICU consist of a variety of therapeutic techniques aimed at ensuring babies have the best developmental outcome.

Therapeutic Interventions

Physical and Occupational Therapy

  • Evaluates motor and sensory capabilities
  • Treatment for difficulties with:
    • maintaining head control
    • gross motor skills
    • fine motor skills
    • visual motor control
  • Address conditions that involve:
    • sensory processing
    • sensory defensiveness
    • torticollis
  • Create and provide unique and specific home exercise programs

Speech-Language Pathologist 

  • Evaluation and Treatment of:
    • speech and language delays
    • neurological conditions
    • oral aversions
    • feeding and swallowing difficulties
      • Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation
      • Modified Barium Swallows

After the NICU, an outpatient PT/OT evaluation is appropriate if any of the following is noticed: 

  • An increase or decrease in muscle tone
  • Lack of movement, decreased motivation or disinterest to move.
  • Delays in development after age is corrected for prematurity
  • Tightness or stiffness in the neck, arms, or legs
  • Toddler is "afraid" of various textures, sounds, or play that interferes with day to day play

A Speech Therapy evaluation is appropriate if: 

  • Feeding is a daily "battle"
  • Infant refuses to eat over a period of time
  • Infant gags, chokes, cries when new foods are introduced
  • Infant is not talking or babbling as expected for their age

Infant skills according to age are as follows (correct age for prematurity) 

3 Months

  • Starts to gain control of head at midline
  • Takes weight on forearms- tummy time
  • Does random swiping, kicking, batting
  • Smiles when spoken to

4 Months

  • Lift shoulders off of surface when on tummy and rests on forearms
  • Hands to midline

5 Months

  • Rolls to side and tummy to back
  • Reaches for toy when on tummy
  • Laughs and squeals

6 Months

  • Sits with support
  • Rolls back to tummy
  • Brings feet to mouth
  • Grasps and transfers toys

7-10 Months

  • Crawls
  • Sits alone unsupported
  • Starts pulling to stand

9 Months

  • Cruising along furniture emerges
  • Babbles

12-14 Months

  • Pulls to stand through ½ kneel
  • Speaks 2 or 3 word sentences
  • Creeps over obstacles and up 2 steps

15-17 Months

  • Walks independently
  • Walks holding objects/toys
  • Begins walking upstairs with railing