Motor Outcomes in Premature Infants

Maureen Connors Lenke, BS, OTR/L


NAINR. 2003;3(3) 

In This Article


It is important to be aware of the possible consequences of premature birth and their association with the development of motor deficits, as well as the transient signs of motor deviation associated with prematurity that may resolve. It is also important not to prejudge the premature infant in terms of capabilities, despite their high-risk status. Determining when to reassure and when to intervene is sometimes very difficult, and often not clear cut, but comes with continued experience with the variations in preterm infant development and an understanding of the transient compensations that may occur as a result.

The main goal of the NICU follow-up program is to identify any delays or deviations in development of the infant associated with their prematurity or neonatal illness and to provide appropriate services to address the needs of the infant as he progresses. Even if a premature infant is doing well, developmental suggestions can be made that will positively enhance the infant's motor outcome. Each follow-up examination should not only be viewed as an assessment of the infant, but also as an opportunity for intervention for both the parents and the infant. Using the follow-up visit as an educational experience for the parent is an important addition to the motor screening. Early identification and treatment of CP or other motor deficits may stabilize the impairment and reduce the associated disability, as well as help families better support their child's development.


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