Researcher | Research Overview
My research focuses on two important neonatal and infant health issues, car seat safety and the prevention of plagiocephaly. When I first began to examine the issue of car seat safety, healthcare providers and parents lacked clear information about newborn infants’ car seat-related breathing problems and the proper use of car seats. My clinical experience and dialogue with experts nationwide identified the vital need for education that delineated the differences between car seat-related breathing problems and car-seat fit. I have stimulated a substantial knowledge shift regarding all aspects of infant car seat safety through my research, publications, and presentations. These contributions include, redesign of nursing education on car seat safety to reflect the divergent issues of car seat-related breathing problems and fit, advocating for important revisions to car seat screening procedures, and promoting the redesign of car seats to accommodate infants weighing less than 5 pounds.
I have presented and published more than 20 different works pertaining to infant car seat safety. My foundational work on car seat safety is published in the Journal of Obstetrical Gynecological and Neonatal Nursing. This study demonstrated the reliability of the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended, pre-discharge screening of premature infants in their car seats. Another, landmark study published in Pediatrics highlights details of the first Infant Car Seat Challenge Follow-Up Program in the Northeast.
Recently, I have expanded my program of research to include the growing concern of deformational plagiocephaly (misshapen heads). Infants with deformational plagiocephaly can experience social and neurobehavioral problems. In response to these problems, I have successfully led two clinical trials of a novel orthotic device designed to prevent or treat deformational plagiocephaly. The first study showed that 81% of infants positioned on the orthotic device had normal head shapes at discharge compared to 54% of infants in the comparison group. The second study demonstrated that the same device corrected deformational plagiocephaly for 83% of infant participants. As a direct result of these studies, I am guiding neonatal healthcare providers within the nation and from around the world regarding the routine use of the device in their hospitals. In addition I have been awarded funds to develop a plagiocephaly prevention device for extremely premature infants. Most notably though, my research indicates that deformational plagiocephaly is a preventable condition for many hospitalized infants.
Researcher | Research Background
I am a practicing certified neonatal nurse practitioner and nurse scientist. I received my master’s degree and training as a neonatal nurse practitioner from Northeastern University and doctorate in nursing from the University of Massachusetts, Worcester. My academic appointments include Instructor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, and Adjunct Associate Professor, Northeastern University Graduate School of Nursing. I have served as an invited member on the 2007 and 2011 National Safety Council Task Forces on Child Passenger Safety Discharge Policy Planning, and have been instrumental in the development of national car seat safety standards for all infants. I have been awarded internal and external research grants. As the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Director of Nursing Research, I mentor nurses and physicians in the conduct of research, and I am involved in conceptualization, development and study of innovative devices geared towards improving the care of newborns.
Honors and Awards
Sigma Theta Tau, International Honor Society of Nursing
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, Excellence in Nursing Award
Northeastern University School of Nursing, Distinguished Alumni Award
Boston Children’s Hospital, NICU Excellence in Service and Training Award