19 Ways to Recognize You’re a Neonatal Therapist

August 19, 2011
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Last week, I was creating a presentation on ‘Therapy in the NICU’ for my rehab department at work. Like many of you, the patients I see in the NICU are the only pediatric patients in an otherwise ‘adult’ hospital. So the therapists listening to my talk were going to enter a whole new and smaller world.

I began to realize how immersed I am (and have been) in the NICU. The patients, language, and goals are entirely different.

It made me laugh – this wasn’t going to be just a presentation, but a translation!

Last week, I was creating a presentation on ‘Therapy in the NICU’ for my rehab department at work. Like many of you, the patients I see in the NICU are the only pediatric patients in an otherwise ‘adult’ hospital. So the therapists listening to my talk were going to enter a whole new and smaller world.

I began to realize how immersed I am (and have been) in the NICU. The patients, language, and goals are entirely different.

It made me laugh – this wasn’t going to be just a presentation, but a translation!

In the end it was a lot of fun! But these are the things that tickled me along the way. As neonatal therapists, we have developed our own culture. Do you recognize yourself here?

You Know You’re a Neonatal Therapist When:

  1. You see the acronyms ROM, PROM, SROM and think rupture of membranes before you think range of motion.
  2. You can spot asymmetry from a mile away.
  3. You feed your friend’s healthy newborn baby and think, “Is this baby even breathing?”, because it’s been years since you’ve fed a baby who has this sort of coordination.
  4. You hold a baby on your lap to burp them.
  5. You can’t stand to see a small baby lying in extension without support.
  6. Size 1 diapers seem like they should fit toddlers.
  7. You truly revel in each little bit of forward progress.
  8. You’re obsessed about head molding.
  9. You tell your family how cute all the babies on your schedule are, over and over. And over.
  10. You can’t help but swaddle your daughter’s baby dolls.
  11. Phrases like, “transfers with max assist” begin to fade from your memory.
  12. You’re the only one not smiling when a baby 33weeks PCA has ‘excellent’ head control.
  13. You observe that adults tell us a lot by their facial expressions, posture, and motoric stress signs too!
  14. You try to find ways to make your hands warm without compromising hand washing guidelines.
  15. You’ve dreamed of inventing the perfect flow rate nipple that would enable all premature babies to eat safely. Oh, and it’s single-use-only. And free to hospitals. And latex free. And DEHP free.
  16. Alignment and symmetry are among your favorite words.
  17. You find yourself assessing the development of every baby you come in contact with in your life. It’s reflexive. It just happens.
  18. You love the way the autonomic system responds when the other systems are supported. (You’re a bit of a neuro geek and you love that about yourself!)
  19. You have a soft spot for the most fragile people on earth.