Babies' Bodies & Brains: Multi-System Assessment & Treatment of the Premature/Medically-Complex Infant for the Rehabilitation Professional

April 30-May 1, 2022
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM Saturday

8:00 AM - 5:00 PM Sunday



[Click to Register on our Partner's Site

Course Description

This course complements Holly's other course Baby Beat and Breaths: Therapeutic Interventions for the Premature Infant with Cardiopulmonary Compromise”. These courses are not sequential in nature and may be taken in any order. If you have not taken either course before, Holly recommends taking the course titled “Babies' Bodies and Brains: Multi-System Assessment and Treatment of the Premature/Medically Complex Infant for the Rehabilitation Professional” first.

This intermediate-advanced course will provide a systems-based approach to assess the premature/medically complex infant in the NICU/PICU setting. This course will focus on understanding the co-morbidities associated with prematurity and medically-complex infants and increase critical reasoning skills for the clinician to create treatment plans to advance motor and feeding skills for the infant.

This course will provide the clinician with hands-on treatment techniques for positioning/handling infants in the Small Baby unit (infants under 32 weeks gestation), oral motor interventions to support pre-feeding/feeding development, edema management including lymphatic facilitation, post-surgical considerations for infants, trunk facilitation to support cough development, extremity facilitation to support ribcage development, pelvic floor activation for stooling, abdominal facilitation for infants with GI complications, scar assessment/treatment, and feeding techniques for infants with multi-system co-morbidities. Advanced information on reading/interpreting vent settings during interventions for objective assessments for infants that are intubated or have tracheostomy tubes. Expanded lecture/lab section devoted to infants with tracheostomy tubes included oral motor, feeding interventions, postural control, manual cough facilitation, positioning/handling, and durable medical equipment recommendations for infant/family in preparation for home discharge.

Participant Requirements: In order to maximize the learning experience during lab time, each participant needs to bring a soft body doll. The ideal size would be 10-15”, but any soft body doll will work.

Course Objectives

Upon completion of this course, participants will be able to do:

  • Identify three anatomical and kinesiological developmental changes for the premature and newborn thoracic and abdominal cavity as related to motor development for oral feeding and postural control.
  • Apply at least two positioning/handling interventions for small babies, with focus on interventions for infants 28 weeks and younger.
  • Identify three neurological and gastrointestinal co-morbidities of prematurity (including anatomical changes post-surgical interventions for necrotizing enterocolitis) and the effects those co-morbidities have on feeding/motor development for the infant.
  • Differentiate the lymphatic system of the premature infant from that of the full-term infant and how those differences affect feeding skills.
  • Assess infant edema within face, extremities, and trunk using objective measurements.
  • Apply two treatment strategies with positioning, handling and manual edema mobilization using the provided case study.
  • Create an individualized care plan for an infant using the provided case study with tracheostomy tubes for improved outcomes with oral feeding, cough facilitation, motor control, and phonation.
  • Integrate a systems approach to a current individualized care plan for a premature and/or medically-complex infant.

About the Instructor

Holly Schifsky, OTR/L, CNT, NTMTC, CBIS, is an Occupational Therapist who has worked in pediatrics for the past 24 years with the past 16 years in a level IV NICU. She is a Certified Neonatal Therapist, Certified Neonatal Touch and Massage Therapist, Certified Brain Injury therapist, an active member of National Association of Neonatal Therapists, and has completed 6-month mentorship in infant/child NDT.

She has worked within the NICU and NICU follow-up clinic to maximize patient and family outcomes for the most complex premature and medically-fragile term infants. Holly received her Bachelor of Science degree in Occupational therapy from the University of North Dakota in 1997. She has dedicated her career to clinical care and advancing developmental care practice patterns for all multidisciplinary team members.

She has presented at many regional and national conferences including National Association of Neonatal Therapists, American Physical Therapy Combined Sections Meeting, Audrey Harris Vision NICU conference, and the University of Minnesota NICU conference. She provides Developmental Care, Feeding Intervention, and NICU education throughout the country.

She is a faculty member for the Neonatal Touch and Massage certification. She is the recipient of the National Association of Neonatal Therapists Clinical Excellence award in 2018, due to her clinical expertise and dedication to advancing the therapeutic interventions for NICU infants with cardiopulmonary conditions.


Coming soon...


Texas Children's Hospital Feigin Center

1st Floor Conference Room A
1102 Bates Street
Houston, TX 77030

Click here for directions

Hotel Accommodations

Coming soon....

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Who Should Attend

Audience: This course is recommended for intermediate-to-advanced neonatal therapists, PTs, PTAs, OTs, OTAs, and SLPs, working with infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.


15 contact hours or CCU's.