Volunteering in the NICU :)

Every Sunday afternoon I have my volunteer shift in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) pronounced NICK-U. Today I was somewhat of a pacifier fairy…flitting from crib to crib replacing pacifiers. Almost every shift I learn new techniques or new lingo or something about working with the babies. I definitely appreciate my occupational therapy background while volunteering. It gives me a really helpful understanding of the importance of the vestibular, proprioceptive, and tactile systems of these babies among other things.

Some of the medications that the “drug babies” take while weaning can cause hypertonicity, meaning basically that their limbs can feel rigid in certain positions, and can even kind of “tremor” when extended. I recently realized that when trying to transfer a sleeping drug baby from my lap to their bed, that if their legs are allowed to dangle at all, it can lead to a tremor and the baby can wake up just from that. (It obviously depends on the baby’s level of hypertonicity). So if I keep the baby’s legs contained and slightly flexed while transferring the baby, it prevents the tremor and the baby is more likely to stay asleep. Considering how incredibly important sleep is to a sick baby, a little realization like that can be really helpful in allowing a baby more uninterrupted sleep!
I recently got to hold a “typical” baby at a friend’s house – he was so calm and quiet and obviously unconnected to any tubes or monitors. It was insane how easy he was! When all the babies I ever get to hold are in an intensive care unit, it definitely gives me a skewed sense of what “normal” is!
I’ve been on break two weeks. I spent a week in Maui with family and this second week doing a combination of relaxation and some preparatory work.
Tomorrow it’s back to work and this week I plan to do my first app review of Dexteria. 
By the way – Handwriting Without Tears updated their Wet-Dry-Try app and it now has an “Easy” Setting you can set. I now recommend their app because of that change. 🙂 It was too frustrating and hard for the vast majority of my kids before, but now it’s doable with that setting. 
By the way – in the year 2012 I wrote over 300 posts! That’s more than I’ve written since 2008, when I wrote over 600! I’m insane. But you all know that already. 🙂 
Jan 07, 2013 | Category: Occupational Therapy | Comments: none