1. Cevasco-Trotter, Andrea M. PhD, MT-BC
  2. Hamm, Ellyn L. MM, MT-BC
  3. Yang, Xin PhD
  4. Parton, Jason PhD


Background: The neonatal intensive care unit is often a noisy, overstimulating environment that disrupts infants' regulation of physiological and behavioral states and interrupts caregiver bonding; however, infants benefit from early intervention, including the use of multimodal neurological enhancement (MMNE) intervention to provide appropriate neurodevelopmental stimulation. No one has investigated whether it assists infants in self-regulation.


Purpose: The purpose of this retrospective longitudinal analysis was to examine the effect of a music therapy intervention, MMNE, on self-regulation of premature infants as measured by changes in heart rate (HR).


Methods: A convenience sample of 60 premature infants received 486 MMNE sessions provided by a board-certified music therapist (MT-BC). Documentation, taken during routine clinical services, involved recording infant's HRs from the standard monitor for 3 minutes at baseline, during, and after a 20-minute MMNE intervention.


Results: Infants' mean HRs were decreased during and post-MMNE sessions compared with baseline (P < .004 and P < .001, respectively). Furthermore, infants with a baseline HR above 170 had significant decreases both during and after the MMNE session (P < .001 for both time periods).


Implications for Practice: Results of this study support the existing body of evidence showing the benefits of MMNE with premature infants. Based on our results, MMNE may help infants develop and demonstrate self-regulation as indicated by maintained HRs during and after the intervention as well as a lowered HR for infants who had high HRs prior to MMNE.


Implications for Research: Further research needs to be done regarding how infants process MMNE and its potential to aid sensory processing.