Sensory integration intervention and the development of the premature infant: A controlled trial

E Lecuona, A van Jaarsveld, J Raubenheimer, R van Heerden


Background. Premature infants are at risk of sensory processing difficulties and developmental delays due to an immature central nervous system and possible episodes of medical instability, discomfort, pain and stress during the first weeks or months after birth.

Objective. To investigate the effect of Ayres Sensory Integration (ASI) on the development of premature infants in the first 12 months of life.

Methods. A pre-/post-test experimental design was used to randomly divide 24 premature infants from a low socioeconomic setting in Bloemfontein, South Africa, into experimental and control groups after being matched by corrected age and gender. Developmental status was determined with the Bayley III Scales of Infant and Toddler Development, the Test of Sensory Functions in Infants and the Infant/Toddler Sensory Profile. The experimental group received 10 weeks of ASI intervention.

Results. ASI intervention had a positive effect on the sensory processing and development of premature infants, especially in terms of cognitive, language and motor development.

Conclusions. ASI intervention at an early age enhances the developmental progress of premature infants.


Authors' affiliations

E Lecuona, Department of Occupational Therapy, Universitas Academic Hospital, Bloemfontein, South Africa (current affiliation: occupational therapy private practice, Bebe Developmental Care, Cape Town, South Africa)

A van Jaarsveld, Department of Occupational Therapy, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa

J Raubenheimer, Department of Biostatistics, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa (current affiliation: Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology Research Group, Discipline of Pharmacology, Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney, Australia)

R van Heerden, Occupational therapy private practice, Bloemfontein, South Africa

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Ayres Sensory Integration intervention; Premature infants; Early development

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2017;107(11):976-982. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2017.v107i11.12393

Article History

Date submitted: 2017-10-31
Date published: 2017-10-31

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