Babies born prematurely normally require more specialized care than babies born full term. A baby is considered premature when born at 36 weeks or earlier. The earlier the baby is born, the more underdeveloped he or she may be, which is why preemies require a stay in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). The length of stay generally depends on how early they were born. Once premature babies are ready to be discharged, they can still be fragile and often require continued care at home.
Some preemies may also require pediatric physical therapy or occupational therapy. This is especially true if they have been diagnosed with any type of brain injury due to their early birth. One example of such a diagnosis is periventricular leukomalacia (PVL). Babies who are born prematurely and exhibit the following symptoms may also need at-home care and therapy:
- Baby is not meeting developmental milestones
- Baby has either floppy or tight muscle tone
- Baby’s head tilts to one side only
There are many benefits of performing these therapy services at home. Babies born early may have a weakened immune system that puts them at risk of infection when exposed to germs. Instead of having to travel to and from the hospital for therapy services, a baby may be safer at home. Home care may help preserve the baby’s good health while his or her pediatric therapy needs are met.