NeoNook is a ground breaking care system for preterm infants, providing a physiologically beneficial incubator environment and improved breathing assistance. NeoNook works to soothe the infant by simulating the womb environment and providing the comforting, familiar biorhythms of the infant’s mother.
Dawid Dawod, Sweden
Alastair Warren, New Zealand
A preterm infant misses out on weeks or months of development in their mother’s womb, and spends much of their development time incubated instead. The incubator is an unexpected and stressful environment, where preterm infants are deprived of their mother’s comforting biorhythms and voice, and are instead often exposed to intense noise, light, and unexpected movement. Stable infants can fortunately be cared for in “kangaroo care”, where parents hold the infant, but unstable infants must spend most or all of their time in an incubator. As well as negatively affecting the infant, this challenges the mother’s bond with her child.
In addition to these challenges, many severely preterm infants require breathing assistance from continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment, which further disturbs the infant, can cause long-term facial damage, and is not always effective. NeoNook addresses these problems with one cohesive, modular solution.
Firstly, a physiologically comforting environment is created in the incubator. When in kangaroo care, the mother wears a sensor-enabled pendant to capture the mother’s heartbeat, the rise and fall of her lungs, and her spoken words and singing. These biorhythms are then simulated when the infant is in the incubator, and are automatically modulated to create the most comforting environment possible, based on feedback from the infant’s own heart rate and other biological signs. This empowers the mother as a caregiver.
NeoNook offers a more womb-like environment. Adjustable cushioning provides support and limited, elastic movement, and the blanket strips absorb the mother’s scent during kangaroo care and release it in the incubator, a method scientifically proven to relax the infant. The fabric strips are designed to allow various lines, IV drips, and other cables to be conveniently accessed.
The provision of CPAP breathing assistance is improved through an insulating, pressure-dispersing hat and modular mask system. A push-together valve allows different masks and straps to be quickly interchanged, with wide masks and a free-swivelling valve to minimise any forces on the infant’s face.
NeoNook also allows nurses’ workflow to be streamlined with an alarm mute button, provisions for light therapy, and a camera system for remote diagnosis. Finally, the product aesthetic provides a sense of comfort and security to concerned parents.
A positive side benefit of NeoNook’s improved treatment provision is that the reduction of demands on the nurses’ time. By reducing stress on the infant, the infant requires less attention and less adjustments of body position and CPAP fixation, significantly reducing demands on nurses in a challenging, and sometimes high-paced, stressful work environment.