Premature Infants: Perspectives on NICU-MT Practice

Jayne M Standley


Music research began in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) over 25 years ago.  Initially, medical staff resisted the idea that music therapy could impact premature infant medical outcomes. Today NICU-MT is well known in the U.S. with over 300 specially trained Board Certified Music Therapists (MT-BCs), and it is evolving in international settings.  Over 50 research studies in refereed journals provide evidence-based methodology for NICU-MT and document important and unique infant benefits from music

Quality of medical services is evaluated by benchmarks of benefit that are also economical and efficient. NICU-MT is underutilized and improves both  medical and developmental outcomes for infants while reducing medical costs. For these reasons, it is an important new benchmark of quality NICU care.  It behooves the profession to describe and promulgate specialized NICU-MT treatment techniques.  Because of the extreme fragility and unique needs of premature infants still undergoing fetal development, it is also timely that the music therapy profession begins to develop specialized training for clinical treatment in this area.    

This article offers a perspective on NICU-MT by integrating music research with developmental theory, medical treatment, and MT clinical practice.  It also provides suggestions for development of the specialization of NICU-MT.    



perspectives, NICU, premature, music, standards, evidence-based

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Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy (ISSN 1504-1611)