Grant Application

Patti Miller, MSN, RNC-NIC, UPMC Harrisburg

Proposed Innovation

Infants born before 32 weeks’ gestation need special care and management in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). They are at risk for multiple serious medical problems, including bleeding in the brain that can lead to lifelong complications.

In some cases, brain bleeding can be prevented by taking certain precautions. For example, placing these premature infants in a midline position during the first 72 hours of life — a time when 90% of brain bleeds occur — has been shown to reduce risk. But keeping infants in that position can be difficult. This project aims to protect “preemie” brains using a special positioning device.

Improvements in Action

Through this project, the FDA-approved TORTLE positioning device will be purchased in a variety of sizes. This simple device is designed to position and maintain a baby’s head in a midline position during that critical time period. It will be used in the NICU and during transport of newborns by air and ground.

Intended Outcomes

By preventing brain bleeding, these premature babies will have less risk of developmental delays, feeding issues, cerebral palsy, and other long-term conditions. This device is also expected to alleviate pressure on infants’ sinus and lymphatic drainage pathways, reducing their risk of long-term sinus problems.