NTrainer System benefits pediatric patients at Madonna

Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital recently obtained a state-of-the-art piece of equipment to help their  youngest patients relearn to eat after a life-changing illness or injury. The NTrainer System is an FDA approved medical device designed to assess and entrain orofacial motor systems. The child’s internal sucking pattern will attempt to mimic the external motoric pattern.

The NTrainer quantitatively analyzes the child’s non-nutritive suck (NNS), an indicator of their neurological organization. It measures the strength of their suck, the amount of activity per sucking burst, total sucking activity, and the consistency from one burst to the next. The therapy mode then reinforces the development of the NNS through a pulsating pacifier attached to a hand-held motoric device. The pattern provided through the pacifier mimics the normal brainstem pattern. The technique capitalizes on the benefits of neuroplasticity by strengthening neural networks and entraining the brain through repeated exposure.

NTrainer therapy has been shown to:
• decrease the time to return to oral feeds
• decrease length of stay
• decrease oral aversions
• improve secretion management
• increase oral feedings and weight gain
• decrease the likelihood of g-tube placement

Photo: Three-year-old Molly Felker sustained a traumatic brain injury  when she choked on a hot dog. Michelle Foley, speech language pathologist at Madonna, introduced the NTrainer to help Molly regain her sucking reflex. Within a month of NTrainer therapy, Molly could suck juice from a sippy cup.

Researchers across the nation are beginning to show that the NTrainer has positive outcomes on children with cardiac defects and children who have sustained strokes and brain injuries. Madonna is the only facility in Nebraska with an NTrainer System. For more information, please contact Amy Nordness, director of speech, (402) 413-3167.