About Occupational Therapists in Neonatal Care
Neonatal occupational therapists have a lead role in working with the neonatal multidisciplinary team to promote a neuro-protective developmental care environment. Occupational Therapists provide therapeutic interventions to support infant occupations such as positioning for optimal neurobehavioural regulation, enabling protected sleep, optimal positioning and supportive regulation for positive feeding experiences, modulating the infant’s individual environment to ensure that sensory input is aligned with developmental maturation, supporting both infants and parents in the provision of non-pharmacological pain management during painful and stressful caregiving procedures and provide specialist equipment where necessary.
Parents may also experience challenges with psychological adjustment and mental health issues which adversely affect parenting efficacy. Occupational Therapists facilitate support for neonates and their parents to develop successful psychological and practical coping strategies. Parent occupations are jointly identified which reflect the ongoing care needs e.g. containment holding, positive touch, skin to skin care, providing maternal scent and non-pharmacological pain management support. Psychosocial interventions are provided to parents to assist their adaptation to parenting their baby in an unanticipated environment and increase their self-efficacy. A focus is also provided on enabling parents to feel confident and competent in reading their infant’s neurobehavioural cues and equipped with sensitive and contingent strategies to support their infant’s development and regulation post discharge home.
The Royal College of Occupational Therapists have a specialist section for Children, Young People and Families and a Neonatal OT forum.