Infant Rehabilitation Services in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Meeting the Needs of Our Youngest Patients

Premature infants are cared for every day at Sharp Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU). The NICU is an environment where highly trained professionals use sophisticated procedures and technology to treat fragile infants and provide support for their families during a difficult time. 

Sharp Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) care for premature infants every day 

Occupational and physical therapy specialists are integral members of the professional team and provide early therapeutic intervention to improve the developmental outcomes of premature infants. Therapists are experienced in neonatal training and advanced pediatric competency. They provide evaluation, treatment, team consultation and family teaching for preterm and high-risk infants. They also address neurobehavioral organization, sensory and motor processing and daily life activities, such as feeding. Some of the services that they provide include:

  • Assess oral motor abilities of newborns with cleft lips and palates and instruct parents in adapted feeding techniques
  • Assess swallowing function in infants with history of wet-sounding respirations during feeding and inability to wean off oxygen
  • Create hand splints for newborns with finger and wrist contractures
  • Evaluate oral motor and neuromotor functioning in infants with breastfeeding difficulty
  • Guide parents of preterm infants with feeding-induced apnea and bradycardia in observation of child's respiration and color during feeding, and teach when to provide external pacing
  • Instruct mothers of preterm infants in positioning and oral facilitation techniques to optimize latch during early breastfeeding
  • Instruct parents in passive range of motion and positioning guidelines for their infant with birth-related brachial plexus injuries
  • Link parents of infants at risk for developmental delays with community-based early intervention and therapy services

Find a Physical Therapy Doctor
To find a Sharp-affiliated doctor, search for a San Diego physical therapy doctor or call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm.

For More Rehabilitation Information
To find general information about rehabilitation, visit Rehabilitation in Adult Health or read the Rehabilitation News archive.