Who is treated in the Feeding Disorders Program at Kennedy Krieger?

During fiscal year 2019*, 91 patients were treated by the Feeding Disorders Program at Kennedy Krieger. Below is an age breakdown and the types of treatment provided.

Below is a breakdown of the ages of those patients and the type of treatment they received:

A pie chart depicting the age breakdown of patients treated in the Feeding Disorders Program at Kennedy Krieger in FY 2019

Diagnoses Treated

The Feeding Disorders Program treats children and adolescents who, collectively, have a variety of diagnoses.

Below is a breakdown of the most common diagnoses treated by the Feeding Disorders Program: 

  • Esophagitis
  • Failure to thrive
  • Feeding tube dependence
  • Food allergies
  • Food refusal
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Oral sensory issues
  • Oral-motor dysfunction
  • Tantrums at mealtimes

A pie chart depicting the breakdown of chief feeding concerns of patients treated by the Feeding Disorder Program at Kennedy Krieger during FY 2019

​The Feeding Disorders Program also specializes in treating children who have feeding challenges along with other disorders or concerns, such as autism spectrum disorder, Down syndrome or premature birth.

Interdisciplinary Treatment Team

Patients with feeding issues may have complex needs. An experienced interdisciplinary treatment team works with every patient and his or her family.

This team may include:

  • Behavior data specialists
  • Behavioral psychologists
  • Board-Certified Behavior Analysts
  • Clinical specialists
  • Developmental pediatricians
  • Developmental playroom specialists
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Nurses
  • Occupational therapists
  • Pediatric gastroenterologists
  • Pediatric nutritionists
  • Registered nurses
  • Social workers
  • Speech-language pathologists

Where do patients live who are seen by the Feeding Disorders Program?

The majority of patients treated in the Feeding Disorders Program are from Maryland but many travel from across the United States or internationally to receive treatment.

Since 2010, we have treated patients from 32 states and 10 other countries including Germany, Brazil, Panama, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.

How much therapy do patients receive while being treated in the Feeding Disorders Program?

Patients in the Feeding Disorders Program have regularly scheduled therapy with behavioral psychology, speech and language and occupational therapy.

  • Behavioral psychology conducts three to four one-hour meal sessions daily (Monday – Friday for the day treatment program and seven days per week for the inpatient unit)
  • Speech and language conducts at least three 30-minute sessions per week
  • Occupational therapy conducts at least three 30-minute sessions per week

Patients are monitored daily by medicine, nursing, nutrition and social work.

Patients may participate in structured, supervised play in the playroom which is open for six hours Monday through Friday. The playroom is not staffed on weekends; however, patients are welcome to use it with parental supervision.      

What happens if a patient gets acutely ill or has a medical emergency while an inpatient at Kennedy Krieger?

Kennedy Krieger has Advanced Life Support-certified medical staff members on-site 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with the equipment and processes in place to respond to medical emergencies. Occasionally, more intensive medical needs require unplanned transfers to an acute care setting. When necessary, patients are transferred to The Johns Hopkins Hospital for specialized treatment.

Occasionally, these more intensive medical needs require unplanned transfers to an acute care setting. In fiscal year 2019*, no patients in the Feeding Disorders Program required an unplanned transfer to an acute care setting.

How are patients and their family involved in the care of their child while participating in the Feeding Disorders Program?

No one knows a patient better than his or her family. Kennedy Krieger providers are committed to incorporating family-centered care. The best way to care for a patient is to include his or her family in the patient’s healthcare team. Family members are encouraged to participate in treatment planning, goal setting, family meetings, and education and training sessions.

These include:

  • Parents participate in a steering meeting at the beginning of a child’s admission to discuss the child’s needs and goals for their admission
  • Throughout a patient’s admission, parents and caregivers are encouraged to observe therapy sessions on a daily basis
  • Team members and parents meet throughout a child’s admission to discuss patient progress
  • Parents and other caregivers are provided with formal training on their child’s individualized mealtime plan in preparation for the transition to the home environment
  • Family meals may be conducted with parents and siblings to simulate meals in the home and community • Parents participate in a discharge meeting with the interdisciplinary team at the end of child’s admission to prepare for the transition into the home, community and school
  • Caregivers will be trained to implement an effective mealtime protocol in preparation for discharge to home

How long do most patients receive treatment from the Feeding Disorders Program?

Not everyone receives treatment for the same amount of time. In fiscal year 2019*, the average inpatient admission in the Feeding Disorders program was eight weeks, while the average admission for the day program was 37 days.

What kinds of improvements might patients receiving treatment from the Feeding Disorders Program be expected to make?

During fiscal year 2019*:

  • 90 percent of goals set at admission were met by discharge
  • 89 percent of patients who completed the feeding program met or exceeded their goal for oral intake
  • Over 85% of patients decreased tube feedings by at least 50%. Half of tube-fed patients were 100% weaned from tube feedings by discharge.
  • 94 percent of patients met or exceeded their goals for increasing food variety by discharge

Number of New Foods Added by Patients:
A bar graph depicting the number of new foods added by patients of the Feeding Disorders Program at Kennedy Krieger during FY 2019

What do patients and their families say about their experience with the Feeding Disorders Program?

  • 100 percent of parents received support at Kennedy to help them cope with the impact of their child’s disability/condition
  • 97 percent of families found family-centered rounds to be helpful
  • 96 percent of families would recommend Kennedy Krieger Institute to others

Does Kennedy Krieger have special accreditation?

Kennedy Krieger Institute is accredited by the Commission on the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) and The Joint Commission. Every three years, both organizations review the Institute to ensure that all its programs meet or exceed the very high standards it sets for the care of its patients.

*Fiscal year 2019 is the time frame from July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019.