The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of Women’s Wellness and Research Center is joining the international community to observe International Neonatal Therapy Week aimed at celebrating the contributions of neonatal occupational and physical therapists.
The week, which runs until September 25, is supported by National Association of Neonatal Therapists (NANT) - an organisation that serves neonatal occupational therapists, physical therapists, and speech-language pathologists. According to NANT, neonatal therapy is the art and science of integrating typical development of the infant and family into the environment of the NICU.
Activities include a one-day webinar titled, 'Supporting and Enhancing NICU Sensory Experiences (SENSE) by Prof Bobbi Pineda. Around 30 participants across different disciplines in Hamad Medical Corporation and Sidra Medicine are expected to attend the webinar.
Throughout the week, awareness roll-ups and posters are displayed at different locations across WWRC while fun educational activities will be held in NICU and postnatal (PN) wards with healthcare professionals for their awareness and engagement. There will also be ‘Help You Grasp-HUG’ sessions with parents of babies in the NICU to increase their awareness and involvement in their babies’ care. There will be half day symposium featuring various speakers discussing, “How to Collaboratively Improve Care for Neonates.”
“In the NICU, occupational therapists and physiotherapists nurture the development of preterm neonates via integrated, individualised, neuroprotective, and therapeutic interventions. And as neonatal therapists, we use our specialised education and training to support optimal short and long-term development of preterm babies. We prevent or mitigate adverse sequelae and nurture the infant-family connection. We do our best to bridge the developmental gap from the expected environment of the womb to the unexpected and unpredictable environment of the NICU,” said, Dr Hilal al-Rifai, acting chief executive officer and medical director, WWRC.
Dr Mai Abdulla al-Qubaisi, acting director of NICU, WWRC noted that parental involvement is essential and beneficial both for the baby and the mother. More parental visits are linked to less parental and baby stress, enhanced mother-child bonding, decreased separation anxiety, more milk supply leading to better weight gain for the baby, better understanding and confidence among parents to take care of the preterm baby.
Sultan Salim Hammam al-Abdullah, head, Occupational Therapy explained: “Occupational therapists also educate nurses and parents in understanding their babies’ cues while ensuring that babies are fed safely in the NICU and at home. These strategies help in the babies’ neuro behavioral organisation, nurturing their immature sensory systems while also improving family attachment and bonding.”
Noora Rashid al-Mudahka, chief of Physiotherapy added: “Physiotherapists assess babies’ movements and suggest strategies to optimize their neuromotor development. Physiotherapists nurture infants’ immature musculoskeletal system by providing them with individualised, therapeutic as well as neuroprotective interventions. They also educate nurses and parents in understanding their babies’ strengths, and areas where they can support to optimise their babies neuromotor development.”