Children's NICCU Therapists Release Third “Checklist”

Published on 
May 2, 2012

At the time, there was no formal training process for neonatal therapists caring for critically ill babies—so three specialists at Children's Hospital Los Angeles created one.

More than a decade later, the “Competency Checklist for the Neonatal and High-Risk Infant Therapist,” written by Nancy Forero-Lilienfeld, PT, Janet Lurie-Hauser, OTR/L and former Children's therapist Edith Mak, OTR/L, has been sold and used throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Now in its third edition, the manual is one of the only of its kind. It can be purchased on the Medical Products page on The book is widely regarded as an important source of information for neonatal intensive care unit therapists.

“When we wrote the first edition in 1999, we saw a need for a uniform, baseline of knowledge and skills,” says Forero-Lilienfeld. “There were gaps in knowledge that led us to want to create a more thorough system.”

In the NICU, therapists are charged with ensuring that acute patients with a variety of conditions hit developmental milestones, some of which include acquiring motor skills, range of motion and learning how to feed. Helping these children to close that gap plays a critical role in their future development.

The checklist the trio created provides a detailed curriculum for NICU therapists to acquire with the guidance of senior therapists, who must sign off after a particular skill set is mastered, explains Lurie.

“It’s very handy and useable,” Lurie-Hauser says. “Those who use it are always amazed by the scope of knowledge we present.”