Physical therapy helping NICU babies

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — September is NICU awareness month and that has a local…

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — September is NICU awareness month and that has a local mother sharing her story after spending time with her sons in the NICU.

It’s been almost a year since Allison Sunderland welcomed her twin boys to the world. The first time mom says their arrival was much earlier than expected.

“It was kind of crazy. I went into labor at 26 weeks. And I sat in the hospital for a week on bed rest and then had them at 27 and two,” Sunderland said.

Because her new sons were born premature they underwent various therapies including speech, outpatient and physical therapy.

“Those babies that are born really early need a lot of support for positioning and alignment. They’re not supposed to be in this environment yet, so we want to protect them for their alignment,” Graff said.

Sanford Health physical therapist Wendy Graff says starting physical therapy early on is crucial to promote long term abilities.

“We want them to eventually be able to move like typical infants do. And if they aren’t supported well in the beginning, you may not see them be able to, to move in the same patterns. We might see babies with head shapes that have gone flat on one side or their muscles are tight because they’re wanting to prefer one side,” Graff said.

With the help of physical therapy, Sunderland says her sons are hitting their developmental milestones– something she says she didn’t expect at the beginning.

She has this advice to other parents who may be going through something similar.

“Just to keep… just to keep an open mind and don’t give up with them,” Sunderland said.

“It’s a challenging place. It can be scary, especially if your newborn is very early, but there’s lots of people to support them, and don’t be afraid to be present and ask questions,” Graff said.

To learn more about what Sanford Health’s NICU has to offer, click here.