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Special Topic Course: The Newborn Individualized Developmental Care and Assessment Program (NIDCAP) – Promise to Protect the Preterm Brain

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Speaker: Heidelise Als, PhD
Heidelise Als

Topic: The Newborn Individualized Developmental Care and Assessment Program (NIDCAP) – Promise to Protect the Preterm Brain

Course Description: This presentation will inform the listener of the importance of reading the newborn infant’s behavioral language astutely. The infant’s language is the primary route of communication that aids the caregiver in understanding the infant’s own goals as well as the infant’s thresholds to disorganization and the strategies the infant brings to regaining balance and regulation.
The listener will also learn about the ways that care and the environment support and protect or challenge and threaten the immature infant’s brain development. The importance of the parents in nurturing and regulation of their infants at all times will be highlighted. The implications of this model of care, referred to as The Newborn Individualized Developmental Care and Assessment Program or NIDCAP, for the nursery as a collaborative system are the adherence to a nurturing and supportive philosophy of and care for the infant, the family and the caregiver, as well as the environment. Self-assessment and prioritizing next steps in order to manage improvements paired with reflection in action is the model underlying the NIDCAP Nursery concept. A NIDCAP Nursery assures the kind of care that all infants and families as well as all staff deserve and count on.

Speaker Bio: Heidelise Als, PhD, Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Senior Associate in Psychiatry, and Director of Neurobehavioral Infant and Child Studies, Boston Children’s Hospital Boston, Boston Massachusetts, and Research Associate in Newborn Medicine at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Dr. Als is a clinician and researcher, who is concerned with the neurodevelopment of full-term, high risk and preterm newborns, as well as the effect of environment and care and the parents’ role on brain development. Her goal is to improve the future for all newborns and especially those born early and/or with special challenges requiring

intensive medical care.

Dr. Als is the originator of the Newborn Individualized Developmental Care and Assessment Program (NIDCAP) and the director of the first NICU based program dedicated to training and implementing this approach, established in 1982, the National NIDCAP Training Center, based at Boston Children’s Hospital and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She is the founder of the NIDCAP Federation International (NFI), a charitable organization with the mission to assure NIDCAP care for all newborns and families world-wide. Her research has documented significant improvement in the health and neurodevelopment of preterm infants, who receive NIDCAP care compared to

those, cared for in traditional ways. Her work has changed the training and education of staff as well as the design of and care delivered in NICUs in the US and globally. (See also

0-5 min: Introduction to topic and disclosures
5-7 min: Objectives
7-11 min: Key Collaborators, NIDCAP definition and challenges
11-16 min: Brain development and physiology
16-30 min: NICU environment, Theory of Synactive Development, Sub-Systems
30-42 min: Synactive Model of Developmental Care – NIDCAP
42-1:27 min: Results of NIDCAP studies
1:27 – 1:40 min: Implementing NIDCAP nurseries, challenges, process
1:40 – 1:43 min: Benefits of NIDCAP nurseries
1:43 – 1:50 min: Video example of a NICAP nursery, summary remarks
1:50 – 2:00 min: Recorded question and answer session
2:00 – 2:05 min: Learning assessment

Heidelise Als, PhD
Financial Disclosures: No relevant disclosures.
Nonfinancial disclosures: Dr. Heidelise Als is a volunteer member of the Board of Directors of the non-profit NIDCAP Federation International (NFI) and a Senior NIDCAP and APIB Master Trainer.

Conflict of Interest: There is no conflict of interest for anyone with the ability to control content for this activity.

Target Audience: OT, SLP, PT, RN, MD and Neonatal professionals

Level: Intermediate


  1. Describe preterm infants’ behavioral language signs of organization and disorganization, and its brain-based nature.
  2. Recognize infant behavior as a valuable source for structuring and implementing high-quality, sensitive, individualized care, and its positive effect on the brain.
  3. Identify 2 opportunities for improvement and change in care planning and delivery system-wide.
  4. Describe the care-based processes involved in the protection of the immature infant’s brain in development.

Instructional Method: Recorded webinar with handouts. Learning assessment and course evaluation follow course.

Course Completion Requirements: The learner must view the entire webinar, complete the course evaluation and complete the post webinar learning assessment with at least 80% to receive education credit. Login and logout times will be recorded and documented.
Following completion of this course physical therapists, nurses and other disciplines will receive a certificate of completion and a zip file containing information necessary to submit to their individual state for education credit. Zip file will include course bibliography. Physical therapists are responsible for knowing and adhering to their state’s deadlines, rules and regulations.

Registration information:

In order to obtain access to the course, click the “Register now” button at the bottom of the screen. You are required to be a NANT member in good standing to have access to this course. You may also purchase this courses as a non-member by clicking the “Buy Now” button at the bottom of the screen.

For ADA accommodations, please call NANT Customer Service for more information at (866) 999-5524.

Cancellation Policy: Click HERE to review NANT’s Course Cancellation Policy.

Continuing Education Information

AOTA CEUs: National Association of Neonatal Therapists® (NANT) is an AOTA Approved Provider of professional development.  This Distance Learning-Independent Course is offered at 0.2 CEUs (Intermediate Level, Foundational Knowledge, and Occupational Therapy Service Delivery). AOTA does not endorse specific course content, products, or clinical procedures.

ASHA CEUs: Learners must complete the entire course in order to receive ASHA CEUs. No partial credit awarded. ASHA CE Provider approval and use of the Brand Block does not imply endorsement of course content, specific products or clinical procedures.
ASHA CE Registry users: NANT will submit your ASHA CEU credit to ASHA on your behalf. ASHA CEUs may take up to 100 days to appear on your ASHA Transcript.

Non-ASHA CE Registry users: Maintain your course records and please keep your registry status current in your NANT account. Update your NANT account with your ASHA number if your registry status changes. NANT is not responsible for tracking your registry usage.

PT CE Credit: This activity has been approved by the Texas Board of Physical Therapy Examiners for 2.0 CCUs for PTs and PTAs.

NANT is recognized by the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Physical Therapy as an approved provider of physical therapy and physical therapist assistant continuing education.

Questions regarding CE credit should be directed to the National Association of Neonatal Therapists at or (866) 999-5524.

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