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nicu A Cost-Effective Approach to NICU Music Therapy What is Music Therapy? Music Therapy is the prescribed use of music by a qualified person to effect positive changes in the psychological, physical, cognitive, or social functioning of individuals with health or educational problems. Music therapists have obtained degrees in music therapy and have passed the national certification exam, awarding them the credential MTBC (music therapist-board certified). Music therapists who work in the NICU are board certified and have received additional training giving them the skills and knowledge to provide evidence-based interventions for premature infants. NICU MT Services The following music therapy interventions provided in the NICU are evidence-based and have been found to be significant in the care and development of premature infants: 1. Multimodal Stimulation: the process of layering auditory, tactile (massage), and vestibular (rocking) stimulation based on premature infants’ responses using live lullaby music. Goals: increase tolerance to NICU environment ‣ facilitate neurological growth and development ‣ 2.

Parent Education and Training: Parents of NICU babies are taught the multimodal stimulation progression with music as well as appropriate bonding techniques. Goals: increase sense of control when caring for child in ‣ NICU promote positive bonding experience ‣


Auditory Stimulation: for premature infants between 28-32 weeks who are ready for minimal levels of stimulation. Goals: increase oxygen saturation while decreasing ‣ respiration and heart rate provide opportunity for auditory processing and ‣ neurological development

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PAL (Pacifier Activated Lullaby): medical device created from music therapy research to reinforce positive sucking behaviors in premature infants who have been deemed “poor oral feeders”. It is also used to decrease pain perception after painful procedures. Goals: increase sucking endurance ‣ increase feeding rate when nippling ‣ reduce pain perception through non-nutritive sucking ‣ following painful procedure

NICU music therapy has been proven effective in decreasing length of stay up to 10-12 days, increasing weight gain, oxygen saturation levels and overall tolerance to NICU environment, giving parents a sense of empowerment in the care of their child and increasing endurance and feeding rate for poor oral feeders, as well as for other positive outcomes. Data supports the use of music therapy in the NICU as a costeffective service. The benefits of hiring a board-certified NICU MT is evident by providing increased specialized clinical services and possibly saving the hospital more than $300,000 dollars per year with every 20 babies seen. Since NICU music therapy is now a reimbursable service, it is possible that the hospital can generate enough revenue to support a part-time or even a full-time music therapy position. Resources Cassidy, J. W., & Standley, J. M. (1995). The effect of music listening on physiological responses of premature infants in the NICU. Journal of Music Therapy, 32 (4), 208-227. Standley, J. (1998). The effect of music and multimodal stimulation on physiologic and developmental responses of premature infants in neonatal intensive care. Pediatric Nursing, 24( 6), 532-538. Standley, J. (2003). The effect of music-reinforced non-nutritive sucking on feeding rate of premature infants. Journal of Pediatric Nursing, 18 (3), 169-173. Whipple, J. (2000). The effect of parent training in music and multimodal stimulation on parent-neonate interactions in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Journal of Music Therapy, 37 (4), 250-268.


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imagine 2010  

Additional early childhood music therapy resources available at

imagine 2010  

Additional early childhood music therapy resources available at