Integrating Research Into the “Journeys”

Integrating Research Into the “Journeys” 1024 683 Jeb Phillips

Along with their work to build an innovative follow-up program, Nationwide Children’s faculty and staff members are international leaders in NICU follow-up research.

A number of foundation and National Institutes of Health-funded follow-up studies are housed entirely or in part at the hospital, and The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s is one of 17 member centers of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Institute of Child Health and Human Development Neonatal Research Network.

The research is important on its own, but it also helps ensure that a clinic is using the most up-to-date, evidence-based care, says Nathalie Maitre, MD, PhD, a principal investigator in the Center for Perinatal Research at Nationwide Children’s in addition to her leadership role in the follow-up programs.

“There is a constant systematic review of evidence that must occur for these trials and studies to take place at the highest level,” says Dr. Maitre. “It is a key element of success; we can be a great clinical program in part because we are also doing this research.”

Taryn Cook, a toddler who has benefitted from the clinical care at Nationwide Children’s, is enrolled in the prospective interventional study “Early Childhood Constraint Therapy in Cerebral Palsy” (R01HD081120-02) with Dr. Maitre as principal investigator. It involves a soft mitt constraint on a young child’s more affected hand and bimanual exercise to improve brain and motor function. It’s called the “APPLES” study around the hospital, short for “A Positive Parent-focused training for upper Limb Experience with Sensory-motor feedback.”

“We were told of the opportunity to enroll in studies right away, and we wanted to participate because it could benefit Taryn and others,” says Sarah Cook, Taryn’s mother. Among the other studies involving NICU follow-up at Nationwide Children’s are:

  • “Omega Tots: A Randomized, Controlled Trial of Long-chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Supplementation of Toddler Diets and Developmental Outcomes” (NCT01576783), led by Sarah Keim, PhD, principal investigator in the Center for Biobehavioral Health
  • “Daily and Weekly Rehabilitation for Young Children With Cerebral Palsy (DRIVE)” (NCT02857933) to help determine optimal frequency of rehabilitation, led by Jill Heathcock, PhD, a co-investigator at the Center for Perinatal Research and director of the Infant Lab at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
  • “An Implementation Network for Early Recognition and Intervention of Cerebral Palsy” involving seven academic centers, led by Dr. Maitre and recently funded by the Cerebral Palsy Foundation

“We are not just a research program that documents outcomes,” says Dr. Maitre. “We are a clinical program that fully integrates research into our journeys.”


For more about Dr. Maitre’s work on NICU follow-up programs and Taryn’s story, read Mapping the Journey to Optimal Health for NICU Graduates

About the author

Jeb is the Managing Editor, Executive Communications, in the Department of Marketing and Public Relations at Nationwide Children's Hospital. He contributes feature stories and research news to PediatricsOnline, the hospital’s electronic newsletter for physicians and other health care providers, and to Pediatrics Nationwide. He has served as a communications specialist at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at The Research Institute and came to Nationwide Children’s after 14-year career as daily newspaper reporter, most recently at The Columbus Dispatch.