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

By Sue Ludwig

“Dr. Als brought specific research to our attention regarding the impact of our practice on our babies and their families and this is powerful ammunition in our fight to advocate for our infants who begin their lives in an environment that can be less than supportive for brain development. Because Dr. Als continues to promote this very important work, I am inspired by her positive energy and knowledge and this helps me persevere daily in my journey!” – Nanette Gremillion, MS, PT, CNT

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

Speaker: Heidelise Als, Ph.D.

Release: Available Now On-Demand

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.

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

CE Credit: 2 hours for PT, OT, SLP, RN

Level: Intermediate

Fee: $57 or Free for Members


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.

Speaker Bio:

Heidelise Als, Ph.D., is a 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 www.nidcap.org).

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

Click here to take this course now.

“Having the theory discussed by its creator helped to pull it all together for me. I appreciated the discussion on brain structure and the images of the different species also helped deepen my understanding. The presentation was masterfully done to highlight all of the pertinent information concisely and understandably. Thank you Dr. Als!” – Christine Osaki, PT

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