Children suffering from the cerebral palsy condition have a number of neurological disorders that will affect the coordination of muscles. Though the condition cannot get worse over time, it affects the child all his life. Children suffer from problems in movement, balance and posture. In addition, the disorder makes it tough to eat. This means that children don’t get enough nutrients for the body which makes them weak. When such difficulties arise, the caregivers will have to take necessary action by helping them to meet their nutritional requirements.
Children with cerebral palsy have difficulties in muscle movement which makes it hard for them to eat and does not give them enough nutrition. When such a need arises, the caretakers will have to feed the child so that they gain adequate calories. Issues with food texture caused by mouth sensitivity are another problem that will add to the already existing disorder. Even if a person is able to get enough nutrition, the medications that are used with cerebral palsy patients decrease the level of several vitamins like vitamin B6, B12, C, D, K and folate. Besides, even magnesium and calcium levels will fall to a great extent due to the intake of medicines.
Though caregivers assist the child in eating, children run the risk of not getting sufficient calories. Children with a high degree of spasticity burn a lot of calories during the day due to their muscle contractions which in turn reduces the calorie content in the body. Depending on the type of problem the child is facing, measures should be taken to provide the adequate calories. To assess the problem, up to five professionals might be needed which includes a dietitian, physiotherapist, nutritionist, caregiver and a primary physician.
If a child is not able to take in about 80% of the required calories by mouth or is suffering weight loss, then it is a signal that he should be treated with tube feeding. Even if a child does not gain weight for about 3 months or there is no height weight ratio, then it is time for you to recommend a team of caregivers to give tube feeding for your child. If your child has a swallowing disorder, then an occupational therapist may also be needed in the team. The nutritionist will decide what the child has to be given on the feeding tube after assessing the child’s health because the nutritionist will decide the number of calories that is required by the child to regain his strength.
However, there is a debate on whether tube feeding is the best solution to give nutrition to a cerebral palsy child. This is because there can be complications like gastroesophageal reflux, inhaling the feeding solution into the lungs and bacterial contamination of the feeding device which can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, nausea and intestinal discomfort. Hence, a child’s nutrition and feeding habits should be given a lot of importance to maintain the child’s general health. This can be achieved by training with cerebral palsy courses which will give you guidance on what should be done for your child.