Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Occupational Therapy


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Katherine Jones, MA, OTR/L, CLT-LANA

Second Advisor

Bernard Muriithi, PhD, OTR/L


Current literature demonstrates a need for occupational therapy services following fragile infants’ discharge from a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), specifically regarding feeding. Infants receive necessary medical attention and therapy services while in the NICU but are often discharged without a plan of care for continued services. NICU follow up programs (NFUs) strive to close the gap in services by providing immediate follow up post NICU discharge for the infants and their caregivers. However, occupational therapists (OTs) remain inconsistently consulted in these programs, creating potential for missed opportunities to provide the best possible health outcomes for these fragile infants. This capstone responded to this knowledge gap by observing an NFU for 14 weeks to evaluate potential new roles of OT that optimize feeding outcomes. The researcher concluded an OT would be an asset to NFUs and would optimize the potential for the best possible health outcomes by focusing on feeding, development, and caregiver mental health. This paper concludes with limitations and areas of future study to continue the expansion of occupational therapy in NFUs and feeding.