Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Kelly Dornbier


Introduction The neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is a busy overwhelming environment that differs from the womb. In the womb, an infant is protected from noises and bright lights, tasting and smelling the mother's diet, feeling movement and pushing against the mother as they grow (Altimier & Phillips, 2016). It is ideal for a premature infant's neurodevelopment to have the NICU environment mimic the womb. Two models were selected to help guide the product development, one occupation-based model and one NICU-based model.

Methodology The Person, Environment, Occupation (PEO) model Law et al. (1996) was selected to be used as it takes three concepts into consideration when developing a product. The Neonatal Integrative Developmental Care (NIDC) model was selected as it is a NICU-based model that takes aspects of the SENSE program and PEO model into consideration within the model’s seven core measures.

Results Tiny humans, huge environments: All the sense's coming into play is an evidence-based resource that was created for facilities that are beginning program planning for new construction or remodeling. It provides information to take into consideration in order to have an environment conducive to providing positive sensory experiences for the infant. The PEO model and the NIDC model were used to create the product which contains six chapters outlining different information that should be taken into consideration within the NICU. Two appendixes located at the back of the product contain an care team and parent satisfaction survey that can be

administered after construction is completed and the SENSE program is implemented, to ensure the employees and families are satisfied with the environment.

Significance The information provided by this product will support NICUs by providing recommendations to take into consideration when program planning for new construction or remodeling takes place to ensure preterm infant’s receive sensory stimulation that closely resembles stimulation they receive in the womb.

Conclusion. With the NICU environment being busy and overwhelming, the environment is a very critical factor that needs to be taken into consideration when trying to assimilate the NICU environment to the womb. The parents, multidisciplinary team, and infants have different occupations that they all will participate in to ensure the infants receive appropriate neurological, physical, and emotional exposure.