The Importance of Sensory Processing in At-Risk Babies

Our brain receives sensory information from inside and outside the body, processes it and reveals appropriate responses (such as motor, sensory, communication, emotional, cognitive). Any problem that may arise in these steps of sensory processing affects the baby’s quality of life.

It has been proven by worldwide research that babies born prematurely are born with a great risk in terms of sensory processing skills. The first reason for this; They are born before their neural structures (centres of the nervous system in the brain) that will process sensory information are mature. The second biggest reason is that they spend their first days in the incubator due to their vital risks. The incubator environment is important for babies to continue their vital functions, but they stay away from their mothers’ touches and movements (such as cuddling) during this period, and if they need to be put to sleep during this period, they are also deprived of their own movements. While they are less exposed to these stimuli, they are also exposed to inappropriate sensory stimuli such as hospital lights and the sounds of support units. All these sensory complexes cause these babies to lag behind their peers in their ability to process sensory information in the future.

Sensory information also forms the basis of motor movements. The fact that the baby is in skin-to-skin contact with his mother and father from the birth, being in their arms, accompanying his movements, and trying to explore the environment with his mouth and hands in the future allows these processes to follow naturally. As the baby becomes aware of his body sensory, he becomes aware of the consequences of his actions (such as taking the toy shown as a result of bringing his hands to his mouth and taking it to his mouth), and gains new motor skills with the sensory information he obtains as a result of his movements.

Being born with a small birth week, being born with a low birth weight, staying in the incubator for a long time, and conditions affecting the neurological system (such as intracranial, periventricular and germinal matrix hemorrhages in the brain, hypoxia that causes the brain tissue to be deprived of oxygen) affect both sensory and motor skills together. proven by scientific studies. In particular, it is important to evaluate infants in the risk group at the earliest possible stage, both in sensory and motor areas, by therapists who have completed their training and are experienced in this field, in order to prevent problems that may occur in the future.

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