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Vibrotactile stimulation: A non-pharmacological intervention for opioid-exposed newborns
Open Access Articles
  • Ian Zuzarte, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • Premananda Indic, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • Bruce A. Barton, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • David Paydarfar, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • Francis Bednarek, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • Elisabeth B. Salisbury, University of Massachusetts Medical School
UMMS Affiliation
Department of Neurology; Department of Quantitative Health Sciences; Department of Pediatrics
Document Type

OBJECTIVE: To examine the therapeutic potential of stochastic vibrotactile stimulation (SVS) as a complementary non-pharmacological intervention for withdrawal in opioid-exposed newborns. STUDY DESIGN: A prospective, within-subjects single-center study was conducted in 26 opioid-exposed newborns ( > 37 weeks; 16 male) hospitalized since birth and treated pharmacologically for Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. A specially-constructed mattress delivered low-level SVS (30-60Hz, 10-12mum RMS), alternated in 30-min intervals between continuous vibration (ON) and no vibration (OFF) over a 6-8 hr session. Movement activity, heart rate, respiratory rate, axillary temperature and blood-oxygen saturation were calculated separately for ON and OFF. RESULTS: There was a 35% reduction in movement activity with SVS (p<0.001), with significantly fewer movement periods > 30 sec duration for ON than OFF (p = 0.003). Incidents of tachypneic breaths and tachycardic heart beats were each significantly reduced with SVS, whereas incidents of eupneic breaths and eucardic heart beats each significantly increased with SVS (p<0.03). Infants maintained body temperature and arterial-blood oxygen level independent of stimulation condition. CONCLUSIONS: SVS reduced hyperirritability and pathophysiological instabilities commonly observed in pharmacologically-managed opioid-exposed newborns. SVS may provide an effective complementary therapeutic intervention for improving autonomic function in newborns with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome.

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Copyright © 2017 Zuzarte et al. Citation: PLoS One. 2017 Apr 20;12(4):e0175981. eCollection 2017. Link to article on publisher's site
DOI of Published Version
Related Resources
Link to Article in PubMed
  • stochastic vibrotactile stimulation,
  • opioid-exposed newborns,
  • neonatal drug withdrawal
PubMed ID
Creative Commons License
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0
Citation Information
Ian Zuzarte, Premananda Indic, Bruce A. Barton, David Paydarfar, et al.. "Vibrotactile stimulation: A non-pharmacological intervention for opioid-exposed newborns" Vol. 12 Iss. 4 (2017) ISSN: 1932-6203 (Linking)
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