THURSDAY, APRIL 24, 2014

Premature infants at Tallahassee's only neonatal intensive care unit to benefit from groundbreaking FSU invention

PAL and baby

Research studies have shown that PAL can reduce the length of a premature infant’s hospital stay by an average of five days.

Florida State University and Powers Device Technologies Inc. announced on Sept. 26 the donation of a new Pacifier Activated Lullaby (PAL) medical device to the Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare (TMH) Foundation for Tallahassee Memorial Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

PAL is a new medical device invented by Jayne Standley, a researcher and Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor at the FSU College of Music. It uses musical lullabies to help premature babies overcome one of their greatest growth hurdles — learning how to suck and thereby take in food.

“PAL has been a decade in the making and would never have been possible without the partnership and support of TMH and their state-of-the-art NICU,” Standley said. “Their willingness to open their doors to my research has helped many premature babies get a healthier, quicker and stronger start on life, and I could not imagine a better home for one of these devices.”

The innovative PAL device, which uses musical lullabies to help infants quickly learn the muscle movements needed to suck, and ultimately feed, is on the market through a partnership with Powers Device Technologies. Research studies, such as the ones conducted at TMH, have shown that PAL can reduce the length of a premature infant’s hospital stay by an average of five days.

“TMH has been a key partner in proving how effective the PAL technology is at treating developmental issues in preterm infants,” said P. Kathleen Lovell, president and CEO of Powers Device Technologies. “I am honored to donate one of our PAL units as thanks to these talented and dedicated professionals for their hard work and outstanding contribution. It truly is a life-altering experience for the infants within their care.”

Originally envisioned by Standley more than a decade ago, PAL has undergone extensive clinical testing, received a U.S. patent and been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

“The medical music therapy partnership between FSU and TMH commenced in 1999 and, under the direction of Dr. Standley, it has become a model program for clinical practice, education, training and research — one of the most innovative in the world,” said Paula Fortunas, president and CEO of the TMH Foundation. “TMH is profoundly grateful to Dr. Standley for her life-saving research and for the patient-centered music therapy interventions she has introduced.”

As premature birth rates continue to rise (up 36 percent since the 1980s), PAL demonstrates how the power of music is being harnessed to help premature infants overcome their developmental challenges.

“For newborns, learning to feed is a critical milestone, and the PAL device is specifically designed to help babies learn the sucking skill sooner,” said Thomas Truman, M.D., a pediatric critical-care specialist.

“In the TMH NICU, we often see babies improve their suck and feeding skills after only a session or two with PAL,” added Linda Frimmel, R.N.C., B.S.N., NICU nurse manager. “Improvement in feedings is a contributing factor to a sooner discharge home to their family.”

To watch a short video of PAL in use or learn more about Standley’s music therapy research, visit http://www.research.fsu.edu/PAL. To learn more about TMH’s state-of-the-art NICU, visit http://www.tmh.org/NeonatalIntensiveCareUnit. And to learn more about the PAL device, visit www.powersdt.com.

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