Dr Betty Hutchon DSc MRCOT qualified as an Occupational Therapist in 1978 at the Ulster University and received a Doctor of Science from the same university in July 2016 for her pioneering work in the neurodevelopmental of preterm and high risk infants.
She is head of Children’s Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy for the Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust and manages a team of 38 staff. She is also a Consultant Neurodevelopmental Therapist for University College London Hospital.
Betty is an international trainer for the Bayley Scales of Infant Development and was part of the development and consultancy team for Bayley III and 4. She has provided training, advice and consultation to many research and clinical groups throughout the world.
Betty has collaborated and worked closely with the late Dr Brazelton, at Harvard University and Boston Childrens Hospital for many years. In 1997 Betty was part of a small team who set up the Brazelton Centre UK – a registered charity. Betty is a master trainer for the NBAS and NBO.
Betty received her ‘NIDCAP’ certificate in 1996 – she was only the 2nd person in the UK to have qualified in NIDCAP at that time and used her qualification to educate neonatal therapists, nurses and doctors about the importance of development care in neuroprotection.
Betty has completed extensive training in Prechtl’s GM (general movement) neurological assessment, which is a highly reliable technique for the assessment of spontaneous movements in preterm and very young infants. It is the most predictive test available for young infants to detect cerebral palsy.
Betty is co-author of the highly successful course – ‘Early Assessment & Intervention for Babies & Young Children’ (previously run in collaboration with the Bobath centre London) Since writing the course content for this 6 day course Betty has trained more than 1000 physiotherapists, occupational therapists and doctors throughout the world in early assessment and intervention.
Her publications include several chapters in various textbooks including ‘Occupational Therapy in the NICU’ in Occupational Therapy In Childhood (Chia & Howard) and a chapter on ‘Early Interventions with Infants and Families’ in The Newborn as a Person (Nugent and Brazelton).
Betty has been awarded three outstanding Achievement Awards during her time at the Royal Free. She has recently been the recipient of the Pioneering Award in Neonatal Therapy presented by NANT (National Association of neonatal therapists (USA).
Betty was invited by Action Cerebral Palsy to give evidence on the early identification of cerebral palsy at a special select committee in the Houses of Parliament. Betty’s contribution is documented in the final report published in 2015.
Betty was part of a highly expert team of professionals and academics who worked on the NICE guidelines for developmental follow up of preterm infants published in 2017. The guideline is available to view here
She was also part of the Royal College of Occupational Therapists recently published standards for neonatal practice – ‘Occupational Therapy in neonatal services and early intervention’, (https://www.rcot.co.uk/practice-resources/rcot-publications/downloads/neonatal-services).
Betty has presented at many national and international conferences all over the world including being invited to present as a keynote speaker at the European Academy of Childhood Disability. Betty co-presented with Dr Joanna Hawthorne, Cambridge at the WAIMH (World Association Infant Mental Health) in June 2014 and again in May 2016. At the same conference she also co-presented with Dr Connie Keefer from Boston’s Children’s Hospital and Harvard University.
Betty was involved in The Peacock PLOS ONE study and the paper is now available (open access) here.
Betty’s current passion is her work with the Ei SMART team advocating an evidence based transdisciplinary approach to early intervention.
Their recent paper is published in Dec 2019 DMCN (Early intervention programmes for infants at high risk of atypical neurodevelopmental outcome: Hutchon et al) and their podcast is available on utube.
The Ei SMART team have been invited to give an educational seminar at the 2020 European Academy of Childhood Disability annual conference.
Betty is also currently working on a new edition of the well-known and popular book ‘Handling the Young Child with Cerebral Palsy at home’ by Nancy Finnie.
Betty continues to work part time for the NHS running a clinical early intervention and assessment service for high risk infants as well as managing the paediatric therapy team.