An Innovation Inspired by Personal Experience
A child’s illness and hospitalization are unprecedented life events for which no parent can ever be prepared. As a mother with first-hand experience of having children in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), Dr. Bobbi Pineda has dedicated years of research and program development to improve not only the developmental outcomes of high-risk infants but also the overall experience for families who have a child in the NICU.
The NICU environment is usually loud and bright, with infants often exposed to painful medical procedures around the clock. Parents with children in the NICU experience a wide range of emotions—lack of confidence, exhaustion and fatigue, fear, stress, frustration, pride, happiness, and relief.
Seeing what her own babies experienced in the NICU, along with her passion to improve families’ experiences, Dr. Pineda was inspired to develop the Supporting and Enhancing NICU Sensory Experiences (SENSE) program. The program assures fragile infants that the world is not just about heel sticks or painful eye examinations. It provides them with a safe environment to grow, replicating what they would have inside the womb. Meanwhile, the parents are encouraged and equipped with tools and skills to actively participate in their child’s daily growth and learning, including providing age-appropriate, positive sensory exposures to their infants each day of the NICU hospitalization.
Dr. Pineda’s innovative SENSE program has made a powerful impact on hundreds of families around the country, which is why she is the recipient of both the NBCOT Innovation Award and the NBCOT Impact Award.