PURPOSE: To explore the application of a novel relaxation method (the M Technique) in hospitalized very preterm infants in a level IIIC neonatal intensive care unit.
DESIGN: A feasibility, observational intervention study.
SUBJECTS: Ten very preterm infants were enrolled to receive the treatment intervention. Eligible infants born less than 30 weeks' gestation received the intervention at 30 weeks' postmenstrual age.
METHODS: Based on infant readiness, each infant received the M Technique for 5 minutes. Physiologic parameters (heart rate, respiratory rate, and oxygen saturations), behavioral variables (stress and relaxation cues), and infant behavioral state were measured 5 minutes before, during, and up to 10 minutes after the intervention, continuously.
RESULTS: Descriptive analysis revealed that baseline physiologic, behavioral state, and behavioral cue parameters changed during and after the application of the M Technique. A decrease in heart rate and respiratory rate occurred during the M Technique (P = .006, P > .001 respectively) and a decrease in heart rate occurred at the end of the M Technique session (P = .02). In addition, an increase in SaO2 occurred during and at 5 minutes following the M Technique session (P = .04, P = .02, respectively). State scores decreased from baseline (mean = 5.1; range, 3–9) to after the intervention (mean = 2.0, range 1–4). As the intervention was delivered, more positive than negative behavioral cues were observed throughout, at the end, and after the M Technique session.
CONCLUSION: In this feasibility study, the M Technique can be delivered without adverse effects to very preterm infants who are 30 weeks' postmenstrual age. Additional research is needed with a larger, randomized design to determine short- and long-term effects specifically related to neurologic outcomes.