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Vol 18, No 2 (2021)
Research paper
Published online: 2021-03-03
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Assessment of behaviors related to eating disorders in a group of people with cerebral palsy

Anna Mosiołek12, Ewa Neumann1
Psychiatria 2021;18(2):97-102.

Abstract

Introduction: Cerebral palsy (CP) is a group of symptoms that describes a variety of movement or posture disorders that result from permanent but non-progressive brain damage early in a child’s development. They have a direct impact on the patient’s quality of life and relationships in his close surroundings. Very often CP is accompanied by dysphagia and neophobia, where the former is a typical physical disorder resulting from difficulties in swallowing food, and the latter, depending on factors, may be a psychological nutritional barrier, due to the patient’s fear of eating unknown foods. In the group of eating disorders occurring in people with CP, anorexia and bulimia are usually overlooked. The aim of the study is to assess eating disorders in people with CP not mentally retarded and the impact of the environment on their occurrence, as well as to compare the frequency with the general population. Material and methods: The study uses the method of a diagnostic survey and a self-authored questionnaire. The research tool is a questionnaire consisting of 27 questions addressed to parents of children with CP whose intellectual development was normal. Parents of children suffering from CP were examined and their psychosocial development was not abnormal. The study group consisted of 50 people aged 18–50, participation in the study was voluntary and anonymous. The research group consists of people associated in a support group for parents and carers of people with CP. Results: Children suffering from CP very often suffer from eating disorders. There are many types of eating disorders that children with CP suffer from. The most common disturbing eating behavior was fear of eating food (42%), obsessive thoughts about eating (90%), difficulty in swallowing food (86%), perfect knowledge of the caloric content of food products (76%), lack of control over the amount of food consumed (38%), the use of restrictive diets (32%), weight change (24%), vomiting (18%) and reluctance to eat (14%). Conclusions: Directing attention only to the negative aspects of family relationships in people with CP is definitely insufficient. In the prevention of anorexia or bulimia in this group of patients, the need to stimulate and strengthen such forms of behavior of patients and adult caregivers towards children with CP should be taken into account. It is necessary to conduct further research on the coexistence of anorexia and bulimia in people with cerebral palsy.

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