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SPOON Foundation Joint Council on International Children's Services

Cerebral Palsy


Cerebral Palsy (or CP) is a term used to describe a group of chronic conditions affecting body movements and muscle control. CP is caused by damage to one or more specific areas of the brain, and usually occurs before, during, or shortly after birth.

Although cerebral palsy is marked by poor muscle control, the problem is not with the individual’s muscles. The muscles of persons with CP are healthy; the loss of motor control is due to the brain’s inability to fully control the muscles.

The brain damage that has occurred in a person with CP is static. Although symptoms may improve over time due to therapy or worsen over time due to growth, the brain damage itself does not change.

The incidence of cerebral palsy is about 1.5 to 4 per 1000 live births.

Cerebral palsy is classified by both the groups of muscles involved and the quality of movement:

Muscle Group Classification

Quality of Movement Classification

NOTE: Quite often, a person with CP has a mix of two or more of the above classifications. Additionally, the severity of CP can range from mild, to moderate, to severe.

Feeding and Nutrition of Children with Cerebral Palsy

Children with cerebral palsy are at high risk for feeding difficulties (and resulting malnutrition). Children can have difficulties with drinking liquids, swallowing, and/or chewing.

Causes of Feeding Difficulties in CP:

Potential Solutions:

A child with CP should be offered structured, nutritionally balanced meals and snacks. Frequent snacking in between meals can lead to poor overall intake and a diet poor in nutritional quality. Meals should be balanced, containing a carbohydrate, protein, fruit and vegetable source.

Often children with CP have difficulty meeting their nutritional needs by mouth. Depending on your child’s condition, a doctor may recommend the use of a feeding tube. If your child receives tube feeding, nutritional needs can be met through a combination of tube feeding and oral eating. If your child does not receive tube feeding, supplementing usual intake with calorie or protein dense foods can help your child to receive the nutrition they need to grow and develop. Download a list of high calorie and protein foods.

A child who is not receiving adequate nutrition in the form of calories, protein, vitamins and minerals will not be able to respond to therapies, thus compromising growth and development.

For best results, a team approach to feeding is recommended so all the child’s needs are taken under consideration. The team, who may include caregivers, a speech-language pathologist, an occupational therapist, a physical therapist, a dietitian, and/or a physician, may utilize some of the following techniques to assist in improving feeding and nutrition:

SPOON Foundation

3227 NW Thurman Street, Portland, OR 97210
info@spoonfoundation.org
http://www.spoonfoundation.org

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