The Neuro-NICU at UVA

February 5, 2020 by

Q: Tell me more the Neuro-NICU.

A: The Neuro-NICU at the University of Virginia was started in December of 2014. We provides high-level specialized care for infants at risk of brain injury. We treat infants with conditions such as hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, seizures, stroke, intraventricular hemorrhage, hydrocephalus and other brain malformations using a collaborative multidisciplinary approach. Our comprehensive team of specialists from neonatology, pediatric neurology, pediatric neurosurgery, neuroradiology, developmental pediatrics, and therapy works together to provide the highest level of care for infants at risk of neurological injury.

Q: What makes this program stand out?

A: UVA has the first and only neuroNICU program in the Commonwealth of Virginia. One of the features that makes our program stand out is our use of early predictors of cerebral palsy in the neonatal population and research on early, intensive therapies (such as sensory and bonding intervention bundles and parent administered play based therapies).

Q: Who is on the team?

A: The Neuro-NICU Team is multidisciplinary and includes neonatology, pediatric neurology, developmental pediatrics, neurosurgery, neuroradiology and therapy services including PT/OT and speech language pathology. The team coordinators are Lisa Letzkus (Developmental Pediatrics), Santina Zanelli (Neonatology), Jennifer Burnsed (Neonatology), Kristen Heinan (Pediatric Neurology), and Kelly O’Connell (Neurosurgery).

Q: What are the goals of the team?

A: The team’s goals are to deliver state-of-the-art clinical care to our infants with acquired brain injury and complex neurologic problems. These goals are:

  • To make multidisciplinary recommendations for infant’s inpatient care from neurology, developmental pediatrics and therapy services.
  • To provide continuity of care starting in the prenatal period whenever possible and continuing into the post discharge period.
  • To develop multidisciplinary guidelines to improve the care of neonates with neurologic disorders or injury.
  • To educate providers and families.

Q: For you, what is most meaningful about this work?

A: While the field of neonatology has advanced in so many ways, including improved survival for our smallest and most vulnerable patients, the neurodevelopmental outcomes lag behind. Through this group’s clinical care and research, we are striving to help each baby have the best outcome possible.

Q: Where can I learn more?

A: There are Neuro-NICU Rounds, Bi-weekly Neuroradiology Rounds, and weekly Neuro-NICU Education Sessions:

  • Weekly Neuro-NICU Rounds– occur every Friday at 2PM with the Neuro-NICU team. Patients discussed include infants with neurological concerns currently admitted to the NICU and anticipated prenatal cases.
  • Bi-weekly Neuroradiology Rounds– Review of all brain MRIs performed in NICU patients with Dr. Julie Matsumoto and Dr. David Joyner (neuroradiology) and neurology. The on-service team will be notified of patients being discussed in each session so that they may attend. Occur in the Moss Auditorium 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of month at 11AM (WebEx link available).
  • Weekly Neuro-NICU Education Session– Includes: multidisciplinary discussion of an interesting case; education on neonatal neurology topic as well as review of new advances in neonatal neurology.

Q: Who should I contact with questions?

A: Please contact either Jen Burnsed or Santina Zanelli.

Dr. Jennifer Burnsed Dr. Santina Zanelli Dr. Kristen Heinan
Dr. Lisa Letzkus Dr. Kelly O'Connell

Meet the team: Dr. Jennifer Burnsed, Dr. Santina Zanelli, Dr. Kristen Heinan, Dr. Lisa Letzkus, and Kelly O’Connell, NP

Filed Under: Features