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Putting prevention into practice for the benefit of children and young people with cerebral palsy
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  • Published on:
    Identification and prevention of respiratory problems linked to eating and drinking difficulties for children and young people with cerebral palsy.
    • Diane J Sellers, Clinical Academic Speech and Language Therapist Chailey Clinical, Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust

    I welcome Himmelmann’s editorial concerning the prevention of respiratory problems for individuals with cerebral palsy1. As a speech and language therapist working within a multi-disciplinary nutrition team, I recognise the need to increase our understanding of the complex interactions between risk factors through collaboration across stakeholders. It is of particular concern that solids or liquids in the lungs or windpipe have been identified as the cause of death for almost a quarter of people with cerebral palsy2.

    With this in mind, we developed the Eating and Drinking Ability Classification System (EDACS) for people with cerebral palsy from age 3 years. EDACS classifies limitations to eating and drinking ability in 1 of 5 levels, replacing frequently used terms “mild”, “moderate” and “severe” which lack shared definition. Key features of “safety” and “efficiency” are used to determine 5 distinct levels of ability: from Level I Eats and drinks safely and efficiently through to Level V Unable to eat or drink safely – tube feeding may be considered to provide nutrition. EDACS demonstrated strong content validity and excellent inter-observer reliability when used by speech and language therapists3. EDACS is free to download from www.edacs.org along with sixteen completed translations. Ten other language translations are currently in process.

    Himmelmann1 points out associations between limitations to gross motor function and...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.