Effects of a Developmental Physical Therapy Program on Oxygen Saturation and Heart Rate in Preterm Infants
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To evaluate the physiologic responses of 14 preterm infants to physical therapy, pulse oximetry was used to measure the percentage of arterial oxygen saturation (SaO2) and heart rate during baseline, intervention, and recovery phases. Treatment consisted of six one-minute activities that were equally divided between the side-lying and supported-sitting positions. The order of position and activities was randomly varied. A one-way analysis of variance for repeated measures revealed no significant changes in mean SaO2 as a function of the position or duration of intervention. Mean heart rate increased significantly as a result of intervention (p less than .0001), but there was no significant difference between the baseline and recovery phases. Further analysis indicated that the change in heart rate was not a function of duration of intervention. The results indicate that the preterm infants were able to tolerate the intervention without desaturation. The return of heart rate to baseline values during the recovery phase suggested a normal physiologic response to exercise. Despite some technical limitations, pulse oximetry is recommended to monitor preterm infants during physical therapy.
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