"Occupational therapy helped my prem baby"

My son was a 27 weeker and it was so tough in the beginning. All we did for the first 13 weeks of his life was pray that he would make it. He kept us on our toes those 13 weeks. In the first 2 weeks he had to have 3 blood transfusions. The forth one was when he was there for a month and a bit and the last one was the day before he was released from hospital (8th March 2011 - Mothers day). He was also born with a grade 2 bleed.

His paediatrician and us watched and still do watch it like a hawk.  When we went home I felt so defeated.  My son couldn't hold up his own neck after being home for 3 months (corrected age 3 months actual age 6 months) I did everything I could! I tried to not assist it as much did lots of tummy time (which was so difficult because he disliked it so much).


We had many obstacles to overcome.  Due to the bleed my son's head was larger in proportion to his body, this made it difficult for him to left his head.  After feeling like a failure and defeated I searched the web and did a few calls and we came across, Jacqui Cooper, occupational therapist in Hartbeespoort and Pretoria North area. 

We did an assessment and it made me feel worse.  My son was limp, his back was permanently arched.  Just moving his arms or legs for a few seconds make him cry so much. 

It was so terrible for me as a mother to realise just how bad the situation was.  He did not want any type of stimulation. I didnt have the oppurtunity to do baby massaging with him because this would be too much stimulation for him. He didn't like noise (radio or Tv). We took him for hearing tests and he failed (but most prem babies fail the first hearing test) he couldnt focus on things and I often wondered if he could see at all. I made a commitment to see Jacqui once a week and we immediately started with therapy.


It was a long and difficult process. We started with his neck and eventually got that right. We started with sound therapy (tv, toys, dogs etc) and he started reacting more (still not what a normal baby would but atleast I felt he could hear a bit). I also started with visual therapy (black and white pictures) and could see that he concentrated on objects more.

We have come a long way but my son loves tummy time now. He sits like a champion, he crawls properly, stands up against things are are looking forward to him taking his first steps. There is nothing wrong with his hearing and his eyes are much better (although they do still break when following an object from one side to another).


We also had problems with tectures. It took us so long to start with clumpy solids and only recently started eating the same tecture food as us. We solved this with playing on grass, sand and continuous playing with tectured objects in his mouth.


Since we started therapy I have seen huge amounts of progress each week. Jacqui is also very impressed with his progress and I can honestly say this was all due to the therapy.


It would also be beneficial to the parents and premmies if the occupational therapy could start just before they are discharged from the hospital but this will have to be a joint venture between the hospital, nurses and occupational therapist.


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