Nutritional Evaluations and Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy Treatments

silhouette hands on blue background lifting lid on serving dish to reveal the words what, when, and how

Proper nutrition is important for everyone, especially for children with cerebral palsy. However, it may be difficult to know what, when, and how to feed your child. Nutritional evaluations are a great way to see if your child could benefit from a cerebral palsy nutrition therapy plan.

What Are Nutritional Evaluations and Nutrition Therapy?

Difficulties with feeding affect the majority of children with cerebral palsy. Since cerebral palsy can affect facial muscle groups, it can be harder for your child to chew and swallow, which can have several negative effects. Common feeding and nutrition issues include:

  • Vomiting
  • Aspiration
  • Drooling
  • Diarrhea
  • Choking
  • Constipation
  • Gastroesophageal reflux

A nutritional evaluation is the first step in developing a nutrition plan for your child. The evaluation and subsequent therapy will help you gain a more thorough understanding of what you can do to make feeding more effective and to make sure your child is getting the nutrients they need. Even if your child has no difficulty eating, a nutritional evaluation can uncover any unknown dietary needs that are not being met.

Nutritional evaluations are important because every child’s experience and body is different. Cerebral palsy nutrition therapy is a way of diagnosing the specific difficulties your child may be experiencing while feeding and how to address them. Once your child has completed a nutritional evaluation, you and a dietitian or therapist can develop and implement a diet tailored to meet your child’s needs.

How Can Nutritional Evaluations and Therapy Treat Cerebral Palsy?

Using cerebral palsy nutrition recommendations, a nutritionist or dietitian will create a plan specifically designed to address your child’s needs. This plan will help ensure that your child is getting the nutrients their body needs, as well as making the feeding experience more comfortable.

Many children with cerebral palsy suffer from weak or stiff muscles. They may also have skeletal conditions such as osteopenia. A nutrition therapy plan should address these specific issues to improve on them. Your child may be prescribed a diet high in calcium to strengthen bones, vitamin C to bolster the immune system, or copper to increase iron absorption. It all depends on your child’s specific difficulties and needs.

A nutritional evaluation and therapy plan are meant to help both your child and you. An evaluation can help you understand what you can do to ensure your child is getting the nutrition and help they need to be healthy. There are many benefits to a nutritional evaluation, including:

  • Knowing how to prepare your child’s food to make it easier for them to eat and digest.
  • Knowing how to help your child to feed or to eventually teach them how to self-feed.
  • Knowing what kinds of food your child needs to eat to address their specific physical difficulties and nutrition levels.
  • Developing a feeding schedule.
  • Knowing how to properly care for your child’s oral hygiene.

By following a specific cerebral palsy nutrition recommendation, you can help your child’s body and mind grow stronger.

How Can I Determine If My Child Is a Good Candidate?

Every child with cerebral palsy is a good candidate for nutritional evaluation and therapy. But those who experience discomfort during feeding or discomfort as a result of feeding may benefit the most.

Your child might greatly benefit from these therapies if they experience problems such as:

  • Difficulty with chewing and/or swallowing
  • Gastroesophageal reflux
  • Frequent constipation or diarrhea
  • Malnutrition
  • Poor appetite
  • Obesity

If you have any other difficulties associated with feeding, you should schedule an evaluation. Following cerebral palsy nutrition guidelines may improve your child’s comfort and quality of life.

What Your Child’s Nutritional Evaluation Entails

When you meet with a registered dietitian or therapist, they should be able to make the nutritional evaluation process fairly easy to understand. Try to keep a detailed account of what, when, and how you have been feeding your child to give the dietitian or therapist a full picture of your child’s feeding habits and nutrition. The dietitian may describe supplements to be sure your child is getting the nutrients they need, especially if your child can’t eat enough by mouth.

You may need to return for follow-up visits so that the dietitian can measure your child’s growth and nutrient levels. As your child grows, their nutritional requirements will change. A dietitian should take this into account and update your child’s nutrition therapy plan accordingly.

Do you believe your child’s cerebral palsy was a result of medical malpractice? Contact the Cerebral Palsy Family Lawyers at Janet, Janet & Suggs, LLC. Using our many years of experience with cases like yours, we have assisted over 30,000 families with their medical malpractice cases around the United States. Don’t wait to find the truth and seek the compensation that may be owed to you—reach out to us today to see if you have a good case.



William R. “Topper” Cramer
Reviewed by:
William R. “Topper” Cramer, RN, MBA, MS, CCRN, CFRN, EMT-P
Legal Nurse Consultant | Nurse Paralegal

Topper has been involved in emergency, transport, and critical care medicine since 1978 when he became an EMT in high school. A United States Air Force veteran, he remains active as a pre-hospital RN/paramedic, certified flight nurse, and critical care nurse. In addition to his professional role as a nurse consultant/nurse paralegal, he is the Chief of Operations at Walkersville Volunteer Rescue in Frederick County, Maryland. READ FULL BIO

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