Lessons come to life: observations in the NICU and SCU


Intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH), Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC), Retinopathy of PRematurity (ROP), Gastroesophageal reflux (GER), Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD)…and lions and tigers and bears.

When our “Perspectives of Early Development” professor had us fill out a worksheet on common diagnoses seen in the neonatal ICU in preparation for a visit there, I was only mildly interested. I thought it was a little cool to read about all the crazy things that happen to preemies, but wasn’t overly excited about things like “bronchopulmonary dysplasia”. It was just medical terminology, just another thing to remember.

Then I did my first Level I fieldwork in a pediatric hospital. And all my learning suddenly came to life. Because it seemed like every single kid in the NICU and SCU had a spectrum of respiratory, cardiac, neurological, and gastrointestinal problems. (Duh, that’s why they are there!!!) They all seemed to have G-tubes or NG tubes, nasal cannulaes, ostomy bags, you name it. It was shocking to realize that in the two weeks I was there, I probably only saw a child feed by mouth once or twice. Their charts were filled with abbreviations like BPD, IVH Stage III, NEC, ROP…they all struggled to breathe and threw up constantly. The lucky ones had Nissens (although I recently read a really interesting post on why Nissens aren’t that great of an idea somewhere in Ryntales.blogspot.com, who is a mother who spent like half a year in the NICU with her baby). ANYWAY, I learned all about things like looking for conjugate gaze, bilateral reaching, flexion, muscle tone, oxygen saturation levels, and more. It was so fascinating. All the beeping monitors and the babies protruding tubes were a little bit overwhelming at first, but with a great OT at the helm showing me the ropes, it all became a little bit more normal and a little less alien. Those kids need all the OT they can get!


I’m still out of town but plan to be back late Saturday. School starts back a week into July, so I’ll have some new material to discuss pretty soon!

Jun 28, 2007 | Category: Occupational Therapy | Comments: none

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