Saturday, October 6, 2018

World Cerebral Palsy Day - Challenges of Feeding

There are 17 million people around the world with cerebral palsy.  A further 350 million people are closely connected to a child or adult with CP.

Many people with cerebral palsy experience issues related to feeding, nutrition and digestive health. This is due to the way that CP can affect various groups of muscles and nerves – including the muscles in the face.

Common secondary conditions reported in people with cerebral palsy include:

1. Oral-motor dysfunction. 86% of people with CP experience issues controlling lip, tongue and jaw muscles
Gastroesophageal reflux. 77% of people with CP have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Chronic constipation. 74% of people with CP experience chronic constipation
Swallowing disorders. 60% of people with CP have a swallowing disorder (dysphagia)
5. Abdominal pain. 32% of people with CP experience pain between the chest and pelvic regions

Children with any of the above conditions are at risk of being underweight or malnourished. It is fundamental that parents and caregivers ensure their child is receiving the nutrients and proteins they need to thrive.

Specialized diets and feeding techniques can be used to boost nutrition and digestive health. Implementing a diet rich in nutrients, calcium and protein will help reduce the risk of developing any secondary conditions, such as oral-motor dysfunction.

A Day in the Life with Cerebral Palsy: FEEDING/G-TUBE SCHEDULE

When treating poor nutritional health or preventing future complications, parents should seek out the help of an array of a dietitian, doctors and other specialists.

These medical professionals will be able to assess your child’s dietary intake and create a new feeding plan based on areas needing improvement.

Eating and Drinking: Children with Cerebral Palsy

Challenges of Feeding

As a parent of a child with disabilities and a Registered Dietitian my goals are to provide Jake as many tools and resources to allow for maximum independence; while providing nourishing meals. Through mistakes, observations, experiences and the help of very wise health professionals we adapted our environment to achieve these goals. Lately, I've noticed the goals need to be revised as Jake gets older.

1. Utensils were not used in our home for a long time, except when we had guests over. Jake and I ate a lot of finger foods. It was difficult for Jake to hold the utensils. As I watched Jake get older, I noticed his muscles getting tighter. He now asks for help in feeding – most of the time.

2. For drinking, we use a weighted cup base, this is to prevent spills. We would place a cup inside with a flexi straw and Jake would be able to drink on his own and whenever he would like. Lately, I've noticed a lot more spills.

3. Jake loves to dine out and have dinner parties. I never had to worry about getting him to try new foods. Jake is a culinary explorer.

4. I love his understanding of food and nutrition. Jake has a wonderful sense of taste, as he combines different flavors. He creates meals based on colors, designs, and nutrition.

Living with Cerebral Palsy
This is my son, Jake Frank. He has overcome numerous challenges. It is his wish to share with others, even though he has CP he has the ability to talk, think, and feel. When you meet him don't ask me if he can talk; talk directly to him.  

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