Research shows that high-risk neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) graduates and children with complex heart conditions are at a greater risk for neurodevelopmental issues when compared to healthy children. Many of these children experience one or more mild to severe deficits across a range of areas.
The NICU-Cardiac Neurodevelopmental Program (NCNP) at Lurie Children's is one of only a few programs in the country that provides individualized care designed to help these children reach their full potential.
To ensure the highest-quality care based on your child’s developmental stage, the NCNP is comprised of two different teams – one focused on the care of infants and young children through the Neonatal and Cardiac Intensive Care Follow-Up Clinic and one dedicated to the school-aged sector.
How Neurodevelopmental Follow-up Care Can Help Your Child
The NCNP works with families to:
Offer developmental assessment of infants, toddlers, and pre-schoolers to maximize school readiness
Identify school difficulties, such as problems with reading, writing, and math
Address speech and language difficulties experienced by infants, toddlers, pre-schoolers, and school-age children
Detect feeding or nutritional problems
Attend to attention, behavioral, and emotional problems
Provide intervention for difficulties with social relationships with peers and family members
Recognize challenges with task management and organization
Diagnose delayed fine and gross motor skills
Distinguishing between normal and abnormal development in children can be a difficult task. Identifying potential problems as early as possible allows children to gain access to beneficial supports while they are young, and builds a solid foundation for later learning and future success.
Our multidisciplinary team of experts will assess and identify your child’s developmental assets and vulnerabilities. Some challenges may not emerge until later in childhood or adolescence. Our providers will work with you and your child to perform periodic assessments at key points in their development. At each NCNP evaluation, our staff will partner with you to develop an appropriate plan of support. The NCNP is committed to partnering with families to help children reach their full potential by optimizing their experiences inside and outside of school.
What to Expect
The care providers in the NCNP look forward to partnering with families to help children reach their fullest potential. Our partnership will involve a process that includes the following steps:
Step 1: The Initial Neurodevelopmental Clinic Visit
This screening visit will include: 1) the completion of several questionnaires by you and your child; 2) appointments with our specialists to assess your child for any developmental concerns that need further evaluation.
Step 2: Follow-up Consultations
Our program coordinator will work with you to set up the testing and follow-up appointments that were recommended during your initial visit.
Step 3: Case Conference
After your child’s recommended follow-up consultations have been completed, the results of these evaluations will be discussed at our monthly case conference meeting with our entire clinic team. Once this conference has taken place, you will receive a phone call from one of our providers to discuss results and an updated plan. You will also receive a letter summarizing this information.
Step 4: Support in School
If your child is currently in school or preparing to enter school, our education liaison will partner with you to share the results of the comprehensive evaluation with your child’s school. Sharing this information will help to access the educational support that your child needs. The education liaison is available to support school-aged children and travel up to 90 miles away from the hospital. If you live beyond that distance, school support may be provided through teleconference.
Step 5: Long-term follow-up
As your child grows and develops, the NICU-Cardiac Neurodevelopmental Program will provide continuous monitoring and offer age-appropriate support, follow-up screening, reevaluation, and assist with recommended treatments.
Our Neurodevelopmental Team
The NCNP offers specialized neurodevelopmental care to high-risk NICU graduates and children with complex heart conditions by providing the appropriate screening, evaluation, treatment and resources needed to ensure the best outcome possible.
Depending on your child’s needs, some of the neurodevelopmental experts that may evaluate your child include:
Pediatric specialists (e.g., pediatrician, pediatric cardiologist or nurse practitioner): A pediatrician, pediatric cardiologist or nurse practitioner who specializes in neurodevelopmental outcomes in high-risk NICU graduates and children with complex heart conditions will assess your child’s history for factors that put them at higher risk for neurodevelopmental issues.
Developmental-behavioral pediatrician: A developmental-behavioral pediatrician will evaluate your child’s developmental abilities (including physical, cognitive, communication and social development). Your child’s learning capabilities, emotional and behavioral functioning will be assessed.
Education liaison: An education liaison will review your child’s educational history and records along with current academic functioning to better understand your child’s educational needs. These assessments will help determine if a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation is necessary.
Physical therapist: A physical therapist will look at your child’s motor skills, strength, balance, coordination and endurance.
Social worker: A social worker will complete a psychosocial assessment and identify community resources that may address your or your child’s specific needs.
The NCNP also refers to other specialized pediatric clinicians on an as needed basis, including, but not limited to: