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Physical & Nutritional Supports

For most all of us, getting up and eating our daily meals, plus a few snacks here and there, is something we take for granted. Running through a drive-thru window for our favorite beverage on the way to work is routine. But what if our meals had to come through a tube, or be pureed or liquids thickened? That would certainly turn our daily routine upside down!

As service providers, some of the people you provide supports for receive tube feedings or their food and fluids are otherwise specially prepared. This is their routine. Doesn’t sound very appetizing, does it? What if you could help a person MAYBE eat a little more independently or have a more typical presentation of their meals and drinks? I think you would agree that would be the better way to go. Physical and nutritional supports may help you do that.

“What if you could help a person MAYBE eat a little more independently or have a more typical presentation of their meals and drinks?”

Don’t just think of physical supports as a specialized chair or positioning device. Physical supports are a whole range of positions that a person can assume throughout the 24-hour day to help assist that person move better. It may consist of placing a person in a position where they are required to reach

out for an item or loosen up a tight joint. This might allow him or her to eventually use that arm to eat by being able to reach their utensils or a glass of fluid. As a caregiver, you may be trained in special techniques to help control jaw movement or teach a person to drink from a straw. These special positions and procedures are often used by physical and occupational therapists to achieve a more independent eating style for the person.

There are many ways that therapists can assist a person with eating. Therapeutic positioning is one of the means they use to help a person gain more control. Therapeutic positioning involves putting a person into a “working” position. A working position is one where muscles, bones and joints must “work” to hold them in that position. These positions help reform those connections and the movement ability. A person should be in working positions throughout the entire day. The appropriate therapist prescribes what those positions should look like.

Therapists may also help persons with adaptive feeding methods or other physical supports. There are many eating utensils that enable a person to eat more independently. You may be familiar with some items such as built up handles on a spoon or a rocker knife, but there are a lot of other devices available. Sometimes, a person could eat more by mouth with special presentation techniques. The therapist can determine if they have one side of the mouth that is stronger than the other and determine where food needs to be placed on the tongue. Another method is to trigger reflexes of the lips in order for a person to pull food off of a utensil.