Special Topic Course – Neonatal Assessment Tools: A Literature Review and Summary of Clinical Usefulness

By Sue Ludwig

Are you wondering what neonatal assessment tools are most suitable for your NICU’s population? If so, you’re not alone. It can be overwhelming to keep up. This month’s featured Special Topic Course provides you with a thorough review and one CE credit hour.

“The speakers did a nice job of providing an overview of various neonatal assessment tools and the research to support them. We have been looking for an assessment tool in our NICU and this presentation helped provide useful information to assist in this process.” – Ashley Heppermann, MOT, OTR/L, NTMTC

Kristen Connell, PT, DPT, PCS
Elizabeth Heiny, OTR/L, CLC

Topic: Neonatal Assessment Tools: A Literature Review and Summary of Clinical Usefulness.

Course Description: Standardized assessment tools in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) setting are a critical component of care for their value in prediction, discrimination, and evaluation. Standardized assessment tools can additionally be used clinically as a measurement of developmental change, to assist in establishing appropriate interventions, for assessment of intervention effectiveness, as a tool for parent education and for concise and consistent communication to the medical team and other healthcare professionals.

Assessment tools vary in their intended use (neurological, neurobehavioral, neuromotor, and observational), postmenstrual age at which they can be administered, amount of handling required, length of time to administer, training required, and difficulty and clinical value of scoring and interpretation. This presentation will review currently available neonatal assessment tools and compare their criteria for use in the NICU setting by neonatal physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech-language pathologists.

Neonatal assessment tools that will be discussed were identified using a literature search and include:

  • Neurological: Hammersmith Neonatal Neurological Examination (HNNE), The Preemie-Neuro
  • Neurobehavioral: The Assessment of Preterm Infants’ Behavior (APIB), The Neonatal Network Neurobehavioral Scale (NNNS), Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale (NBAS), The Neuro-behavioral Assessment of the Preterm Infant (NAPI)
  • Neuromotor: Test of Infant Motor Performance (TIMP), General Movements Assessment (GMA)
  • Observational: Neonatal Behavioral Observations (NBO), Naturalistic Observation of the Newborn Infant (NONB), and The Infant Sensory Profile 2.

For each assessment, a brief history of the assessment, clinimetric data (i.e. validity, reliability, specificity, sensitivity), postmenstrual ages for use, training required, and scoring and interpretation, as well as its value for clinical use is presented. This presentation will provide the clinician with the tools to determine which assessments to use for what purposes while ascertaining what training is required for their use.

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

Level: Intermediate

CE Credit: 1 hour PT, OT, SLP

Fee: $57 or FREE for members


  1. Explain the value of standardized assessment in the NICU setting.
  2. Identify currently available neonatal assessment tools for clinical use.
  3. Determine which assessments to use for what purposes while ascertaining what training is required for their use.

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

Click here to access the course.

“The speakers presented a great amount of detail and information in a very well-organized and engaging way. It was a great resource to have all of this organized in one package!” – Conference Attendee

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