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Rosemarie Bigsby, ScD

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Title: Clinical Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Clinicial Associate Professor of Psychiatry & Human Behavior
Department: Department of Pediatrics, Department of Psychiatry & Human Behavior

+1 401 274 1122 x48908, 1 401 274 1122x43368

Download Rosemarie Bigsby's Curriculum Vitae in PDF Format

Overview | Research | Grants/Awards | Teaching | Publications

Dr. Bigsby's research focuses on the actions and facial expressions used by infants to signal their wants and needs to caregivers, and the relation between these behaviors and regulation of physiologic functions such as heart-rate and oxygen saturation. Other research interests include developmental interventions and outcomes for preterm infants in the NICU, feeding issues of early infancy, and the relation between early motor development and maternal life style.


I am a pediatric occupational therapist with a career-long interest in infant development. Current focus is on improving outcomes for infants in the NICU, through developmental assessment and interventions and developing an interdisciplinary approach to initiating and progressing breast and bottle feeding.



Research Description

Research involvement and publications reflect a long-standing interest in motor behavior of premature and other high-risk infants, particularly with regard to development of self-regulatory and feeding competencies and positive interaction with caregivers. An initial study of the presence of the aymmetrical tonic neck reflex, the attributes of stimulus objects and related patterns of reaching among preterm and full-term infants formed the foundation for a dynamical systems approach to development which could be woven into her clinical approach to infants at risk. For her doctoral dissertation work, Dr. Bigsby further explored dynamical processes by investigating the relation between motor behaviors and physiologic regulation among previously sick preterm and healthy term infants at 3 months corrected age. This work was continued within the clinical context of the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) as a pilot project studying these same motor behaviors in the sick preterm population, and their relation to physiologic stability and positioning practices, through coding of videotaped observations of the infants before, during and after nursing care. She has coauthored a textbook on NICU interventions (Developmental and Therapeutic Interventions in the NICU - Brookes Publishing). Currently, she is collaborating with other NICU professionals on a study of the impact of the NICU environment on infant and caregiver behavior and development.

She is the coauthor of a tool for assessment of fine and gross motor development of high risk infants during the first year of life (Posture and Fine Motor Assessment of Infants (PFMAI) – Psychological Corp/Pearson), which involved Rasch analysis for scaling of items and forming criterion for norm referencing. She has acted as a consultant and trainer for the infant motor assessments used in the multi-site NIH funded "Maternal Lifestyles Study", including the PFMAI and the Peabody Scales of Motor Development, to demonstrate subtle differences between infants who have been exposed to illegal substances in-utero and those who have not. She also has participated in the development of clinical applications for the Neonatal Network Neurobehavioral Scale (NNNS). Dr. Bigsby has mentored graduate students in their study of preterm infant behavior, and the relation between infant sensory and feeding issues, and is currently working with a multi-disciplinary group of professionals in the NICU to develop an approach to initiating and progressing breast and bottle feeding in the NICU.


Undergraduate: Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI; Honors College Undergraduate Assistantship in Anthropology, Occupational Therapy Department Senior Scholarship, 1973.

Graduate: Maternal and Child Health Traineeships to Support Doctoral and Advanced Master Level Studies, Sargent College of Allied Health Professions, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Maternal and Child Health Services, 1979-1980 and 1987 - 1993

Post Graduate: Roster of Fellows of The American Occupational Therapy Association (F.A.O.T.A.); "For advancing occupational therapy with infants and children", June, 1993

AOTA Service Commendation, January 3, 2007: "The effort, time and expertise you share on behalf of the profession and occupational therapy is exemplary; and your commitment serves as a model for others to become involved and share AOTA's vision for the occupational therapy profession."


Invited Member, International Consensus Panel on NICU Developmental Care Practices, representing OT Profession, Annual Gravens Conference on the Physical and Developmental Environment of the High Risk Infant, 2013 to present.
Member, NICU Task Force, American Occupational Therapy Association, 1999 to present
Manuscript Reviewer, American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 1995 to present
Proposal Reviewer, AOTA National Conference 1988 to present
Resource Person in Sensory Integration, AOTA, Sensory Integration Special Interest Section, 1992 to present
Resource Person in Pediatrics, AOTA Practice Division, 1994 to present
Member, National Association of Neonatal Therapists, January, 2011 to present
Member, Infant Massage USA, 2004 to present
Resource Person, Infant Massage USA, January, 2011 to present
Advisory Board - OT Consultant, Infant Massage USA, May, 2012 to present
Member, Faculty Advisory Board, New England Institute of Technology Master of Science Program in Occupational Therapy, 2009 to present; Program for Occupational Therapy Assistants, 1996 to 2009.

Funded Research

Research Grant #399469, 1995-1996, $5000.00, Reliability and Validity of the Posture and Fine Motor Assessment of Infants, Parts I and II. American Occupational Therapy Foundation, Co-Principal Investigator.

Research Grant #4680-105, 1992 - 1993, $1000.00; Motor Behaviors as Cues to Cardiorespiratory Response in Preterm Infants. American Occupational Therapy Foundation, Principal Investigator.

Teaching Experience

Two-day workshops for NICU Professionals: Interventions for the High Risk Infant: NICU and the Transition Home sponsored by Educationresourcesinc.com

Seminars on Newborn Feeding and Developmental Interventions for Pediatric Residents in NICU, Newborn Curriculum and Developmental and Behavioral Rotations

View My Full Publication List in pdf format

Selected Publications

  • 16. Lester, B. M., Miller, R. J., Hawes, K., Salisbury, A., Bigsby, R., Sullivan, M. C., Padbury, J. F. (2011). Infant Neurobehavioral Development. Seminars in Perinatology, 35, 8-1(2011)
  • 8. Bigsby, R. (2010). Fueling development by enhancing infant-caregiver relationships: Transformation in the developmental therapies. In B.M. Lester, & J.Sparrow (Eds.) Nurturing Children and Families: Building on the Legacy of T.Berry Brazelton. (pp. 219-280). Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell(2010)
  • 15. Bigsby, R. & Lee, YJ. (2010). Neonatal screening and supportive interventions to promote neurobehavioral development. Medicine & Health/Rhode Island, 93, 5, 139-141.(2010)
  • 13. Hwang, Y., Lin, C., Coster, W.J., Bigsby, R., Vergara, E. (2010). Effectiveness of cheek and jaw support to improve feeding performance of preterm infants. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 64, 886-894.(2010)
  • 14. Hwang, Y., Vergara, E., Lin, C., Coster, W.J., Bigsby, R., Tsai, W. (2010). Effect of prefeeding oral stimulation on feeding performance of preterm infants. Indian Journal of Pediatrics, 77, 8, 869-873.(2010)
  • 12. Vergara, E., Anzalone, M; Bigsby, R;, Gorga, D.; Holloway, E.; Hunter, J.; Laadt, G.; Strzyzewski, S. (2006). Specialized knowledge and skills for occupational therapy practice in the neonatal intensive care unit. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 60, 6, 659-668.(2006)
  • 11. Miller-Loncar, C., Lester, B. M., Seifer, R., Lagasse, L. L., Bauer, C. R., Shankaran, S., Bada, H. S., Wright, L. L., Smeriglio, V. L., Bigsby, R., & Liu, J. (2005). Predictors of motor development in children prenatally exposed to cocaine. Neurotoxicology and Teratology, 27, (2), 213- 220.(2005)
  • 10. Miller-Loncar, C., Bigsby, R., High, P., Wallach, M, & Lester, B.M. (2005). Infant colic and feeding difficulties. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 89, 908-912.(2005)
  • 7. Bigsby, R., Boukydis CFZ, LaGasse, L.L., Lester BM. (2004). Clinical Applications for the NNNS. In: Lester, BM & Tronick, EZ (Eds), NICU Network Neurobehavioral Scale Manual. (pp. 85-182). Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.(2004)
  • 6. Vergara, E., & Bigsby, R. (2004). Developmental and Therapeutic Interventions in the NICU. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes. (Second Printing, January 2007).(2004)
  • 9. DeSantis, A., Coster, W., Bigsby, R., & Lester, B.M. (2004). Colic and fussing in infancy, and sensory processing at 3 to 8 years of age. Infant Mental Health Journal, 25, (6), 522-539.(2004)
  • 8. Boukydis CFZ, Bigsby R, Lester BM. (2004). Clinical Use of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Network Neurobehavioral Scale. In: Lester, BM & Tronick, EZ (Eds), The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Network Neurobehavioral Scale (NNNS). Pediatrics, 113. (3), 679-689.(2004)
  • 5. Grenier, I.R ., Bigsby, R., Vergara, E. R, & Lester, B. M. (2003). Comparison of motor self-regulatory and stress behaviors of preterm infants across body positions. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 57, (3) 289-297.(2003)
  • 5. Bigsby, R. (2003). Overview of infant and child developmental models. In, E. B. Crepeau, E. S. Cohn & B. A. B. Schell (Eds.) Willard and Spackman's Occupational Therapy (10th ed., pp. 243-245), Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.(2003)
  • 4. Case-Smith, J., & Bigsby, R. (2001). Motor assessment. In L. T. Singer & P. S. Zeskind (Eds.), Biobehavioral Assessment of the Infant (pp. 423-442). NY: The Guilford Press.(2001)
  • 3. Case-Smith, J., & Bigsby, R. (2000). Posture and Fine Motor Assessment of Infants. San Antonio, TX: Psychological Corporation/Harcourt Assessment Co..(2000)
  • 2. Vohr, B. R., Cashore, W. J., Bigsby, R. (1999). Stresses and interventions in the neonatal intensive care unit. In M. D. Levine, W. B. Carey, & A. C. Crocker (Eds). Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics, 3rd Edition (pp. 263-275). Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders Co.(1999)
  • 17. Bigsby, R., LaGasse, L., Lester, B.M., Shankaran, S., Bada, H. Bauer, C. & Liu, J. (2011). Prenatal cocaine exposure and motor performance at 4 months. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 65, 5, 60-68. 1. Bigsby, R. (1998). Overview of infant and child developmental models. In M. Neistadt, & E. Crepeau (Eds.) Willard and Spackman's Occupational Therapy, 9th Edition, (pp. 543-545). Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Co.(1998)
  • 4. Case-Smith, J., Bigsby, R., & Clutter, J. (1998). Perceptual motor coupling in the development of grasp. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 52 (2), 102-110.(1998)
  • 3. Meyer, E. C., Lester, B. M., Boukydis, C. F. Z., & Bigsby, R. (1998). Family-based intervention with high-risk infants and their families. Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings; 5 (1),49-69.(1998)
  • 2. Bigsby, R., Coster, W., Lester, B. M., Peucker, M. R. (1996). Motor behavioral cues of term and preterm infants at three months. Infant Behavior and Development, 19, 3, 295-307.(1996)
  • 1. Bigsby, R. (1983). Reaching and asymmetrical tonic neck reflex in preterm and full-term infants. Physical and Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics, 3, (4), 25-42.(1983)