Objective. This clinical study investigated the effects of an individually fabricated prone positioner on heart rate, respiratory rate, and scapular position of premature infants in the neonatal intensive care unit. The prone positioner consisted of dense foam with cutouts to position the shoulders forward and toward midline.
Method. Six measurements of scapular rotation, respiratory rate, heart rate, and behavioral state were made with 20 infants on and off the prone positioner. The repeated measures allowed each infant to act as his or her own control.
Results. Heart and respiratory rates were not significantly different between the two methods of prone positioning. Upward scapular rotation was significantly greater with the infant on the prone positioner. Behavioral state did not influence the results.
Conclusion. These results suggest that a prone positioner can be helpful in the prevention of scapular–humeral tightness and shoulder retraction commonly observed in premature infants.