Inside the NICU: Shining light on the healing power of touch
Abigail underwent open-heart surgery and received care in Boston Children’s Cardiac Intensive Care Unit Traveling through Boston Children’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), you feel the warmth of natural light and a soothing sense of calm. One mom, leaning delicately over her son’s bedside, caresses his forehead and gently whispers a lullaby. Only a few steps away, a father rests in a chair with his tiny son on his chest. Lifesaving technology fills the 24-bed NICU and a reassuring team of specialized physicians, nurses and Child Life Specialists monitor, treat and embrace their delicate patients. Nearly 15 million babies, about 1 in 10, are born prematurely each year and in many cases, require complex medical and surgical care. Equally critical to preemie and newborn health is the healing power of touch, experts say. “We encourage families and our own staff to offer gentle touch and physical affection as part of our approach to managing pain and agitation, and promote healthy development,” says Boston Children’s Neonatal Intensive Care Medical Director, Dr. Anne Hansen. There are several forms of therapeutic touch including skin-to-skin contact (also known as kangarooing), the “hand hug” where you place a hand on a child’s head and feet or simply apply gentle pressure on a child’s body. These techniques help regulate breathing and body temperature, create a sense of security and promote motor skills, ...
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