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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
Publication Date
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.

  • stochastic vibrotactile stimulation,
  • opioid-exposed newborns,
  • neonatal drug withdrawal
Rights and Permissions
Copyright © 2017 Zuzarte et al.
DOI of Published Version
PLoS One. 2017 Apr 20;12(4):e0175981. eCollection 2017. Link to article on publisher's site
Related Resources
Link to Article in PubMed
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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