Meet our Neonatal Physiotherapist

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Meet Pat Dulson, whose post as Neonatal Physiotherapist is funded by Tiny Lives. Here, Pat tells us about a typical day at work.

8.30am Every couple of months I present teaching sessions. The topic today is Developmental Care.

9.30am I start off by prioritising the sickest babies on Intensive Care who may have a need for Chest Physiotherapy. This could be a baby who has a chest infection, or who has recently had surgery. I spend time assessing and treating them. Before I leave, I agree a plan with their nurse.

During the morning, I also check for new admissions and respond to a full term baby who the nurses have asked me to look at, as they have concerns about the way she is moving.  I also monitor very premature babies who may need to be nursed intensively for long periods of time. This involves checking they are supported correctly and assessing their head, neck and arms movement, as sometimes they can develop muscle tightness. This is an opportunity to speak with parents, asking them what their baby ‘settles with’, how they move. I also give them ideas on ways in which they can help their babies. Today’s baby has ‘tight hips’, and I teach parents how to perform his stretching exercises and give them a photographic plan to help them remember what to do.

11.00am I move on to the lower dependency area of the unit. These babies may also need Chest assessment, but more often I am assessing how a baby is moving, behaving and interacting. Today, there are a number of babies who are around  33 weeks onwards who need to be seen. I need to co-ordinate this with when the babies are having their cares , so that I don’t disturb their sleep any more than necessary.

11.30am Social Round – this happens once a week with Nursing staff, Community staff and the Social Worker.

12.00 I spend time with some ‘older’ babies who are past their due date and still with us because they need support with their breathing. These babies need a Therapy plan to help them learn to move and play. The NBAS behavioural assessment training course that Tiny Lives paid for is especially useful with these long-term infants.

12.45pm A chance to write up my notes, check emails and prepare for my afternoon clinic

1.00pm Lunch

1.30pm Back to the Physio dept to catch up on paperwork.

2.00pm Today’s clinic includes babies whose corrected ages are 4 months and 9 months, although on other days we may see children up to the age of 2 years. Lots of play! These clinics are helping us to monitor the progress of those infants, who are at risk of Developmental Delay and other problems. Early identification of a delay or difficulty means that we can refer babies for specialist support when needed.

5.00pm Back up to unit to see any babies who need to be reviewed, and then hopefully home!

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