If a baby is admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, it may be seen by one or more of the Therapy Service NICU Specialists in that area.

How do therapists help a baby?

  • Physical Therapists address active/passive range of motion, movement patterns, developmental progression, lower extremity development, weight bearing activities for upper and lower extremities, trunk stability, positioning, management of tone, and lower extremity splinting.
  • Occupational Therapists focus on helping babies explore the world through movement and senses as well as respond to caregivers and events in an adaptive manner. Occupational Therapists generally address upper extremity control for function (calming, hand to mouth and grasping toys), tone management, developmental progression, hand splinting, state control, self-calming, interaction with caregivers and environment, visual exploration and feeding therapy in collaboration with Speech Language Pathologists as part of a comprehensive feeding team.
  • Speech Language Pathologists focus on facilitating appropriate, functional oral-motor patterns, as well as assessing and treating the quality and safety of the baby’s swallow. Speech Language Pathologists offer methods of remediation if dysfunction is present through adaptations of feeding technique, equipment, position or consistencies. This is done in collaboration with Occupational Therapy as part of a comprehensive feeding team. Speech therapy in the NICU promotes communication through encouragement and modeling interaction/engagement and pre-linguistic skills.