The therapeutic feeding team at the Memorial Health Dwaine & Cynthia Willett Children’s Hospital of Savannah consists of licensed speech/language pathologists and occupational therapists who specialize in the assessment and treatment of feeding, swallowing, and oral-motor problems. The team works with primary care physicians, nurses, gastroenterologists, nutritionists, and educational providers to determine the most appropriate plan of care for each child. Feeding problems are often related to the following diagnoses:
- Cerebral Palsy
- Cleft Palate
- Stomach Disorders such as Gastrointestinal Reflux
- Sensory Issues
- Feeding Aversion
The therapeutic feeding team assesses the child's condition by observing feeding sessions and using oral pharyngeal motility (videofluoroscopy) studies that look at all aspects of swallowing. To treat feeding disorders, the team may:
- Select equipment to enhance the child's feeding abilities
- Assist in the positioning and seating for feeding
- Educate parents about appropriate nutrition for the child
- Help the parent transition the child to more advanced feeding, such as weaning from baby foods to table foods or advancing from a bottle to a cup
- Prepare non-oral (tube) feeders to begin receiving food by mouth.
The goal of the therapeutic feeding team is to work with the parents to find the most efficient, safe, and age-appropriate means of feeding the child.