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Helping a Person With Cerebral Palsy Eat

Helping a Person With Cerebral Palsy Eat

Sometimes people with cerebral palsy have problems trying to eat. Problems may include:

  • Coughing and choking, which can lead to breathing problems or pneumonia if food is inhaled into the lungs.
  • Poor jaw control, making it difficult to chew.
  • Difficulty sucking and swallowing.

You can help your child with cerebral palsy eat more easily by:

  • Providing appropriate utensils, such as special plates and large-handled spoons.
  • Serving oatmeal, pudding, mashed potatoes, and other semisolid foods.
  • Placing the child in a secure sitting position for eating. Bring his or her arms toward his or her chest to prevent the child from getting into a position that will make feeding and swallowing more difficult (such as arching the back and throwing the head backward).
  • Holding one hand against the child's cheek to help him or her open and close his or her mouth if jaw control is a problem.

Feeding tubes

A person with severe cerebral palsy may need a feeding tube in order to eat. For short-term use, the tube is placed into the nose and passed into the stomach. For long-term tube feeding, a tube can be placed directly into the stomach through an opening in the abdomen (gastrostomy tube).

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer Louis Pellegrino, MD - Developmental Pediatrics
Current as of September 20, 2012

Current as of: September 20, 2012

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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