Any infant born at 37 weeks or sooner is premature. One in 9 babies in the United States is born prematurely and prematurity is the number one cause of death in babies in the United States. Prematurity Babies born prematurely are at greater risk for health problems, lower birth weight, and developmental and movement disabilities. This is because babies born prematurely typically have lower muscle tone and may require longer hospital stays that require immobilization. These babies may have greater difficulty controlling their trunks, may have increased stiffness, or jerky arm and leg movements. Normal gross motor activities such as rolling, sitting, crawling, standing, walking, or jumping may be delayed.
How Physical Therapy can help: Research shows that early-intervention physical therapy for infants born prematurely is beneficial for motor development. PT for babies with prematurity begins in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and may last several years.
Physical therapy treatment is individualized for each child and may include any of the following:
- Parent education – holding and carrying positions, sleep positions, play positions
- Tactile and kinesthetic stimulation
- Facilitation of age-appropriate developmental activities such as rolling, sitting, crawling, walking, jumping, hopping, and skipping
- Balance training
- Gait training
- Functional strengthening activities through play
If your child was born prematurely, see a Back in Motion pediatric physical therapist to help with optimal gross motor development. Call (703) 372-5716 to schedule your evaluation.