TORONTO, June 21, 2013 /CNW/ - Patients with Parkinson's will soon have a new place to turn for practical resources that could help improve their quality of life. A physician specializing in movement disorders at Baycrest Health Sciences teamed up with the Assistive Technology Clinic (ATC) and students from George Brown College to create recipes and develop a website offering people with Parkinson's practical tools and information to manage their symptoms.
The website, livewellwithparkinsons.com, provides important information on two key aspects of symptom management: diet and medication.
"For patients with Parkinson's, knowledge is empowerment and it is crucial for being able to live well with the disease," says Dr. Galit Kleiner-Fisman, a neurologist at Baycrest, assistant professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto, and medical director of the Jeff and Diane Ross Movement Disorders Clinic, a specialized clinic that is a collaboration between Baycrest and ATC .
"Unfortunately, many patients have some fundamental gaps in their knowledge about managing their symptoms, resulting in lack of optimization in symptom control."
Kleiner-Fisman points to the drug, Levodopa. It's one of the most commonly prescribed medications to control symptoms like tremor, rigidity and slowness of movement. However, when it interacts with protein-rich foods it can be less effective.
"Some people taking the medication need to follow a protein redistribution diet," she says. "They need to control not only what they eat, but also when they eat it. Avoiding nutritional mistakes can be very difficult because many with Parkinson's don't know all the facts about which foods are high in protein."
She stresses that it is important to meet daily protein requirements to maintain health and recommends reducing protein during the day when people are most mobile, requiring maximum effectiveness from Levodopa, and redistributing it to the evening when they may be more sedentary.
In order to create a website that would not only provide information about diet, but offer a recipe for success, Kleiner-Fisman enlisted the help of her team at ATC and culinary students from George Brown's Food Innovation and Research Studio (FIRSt). Together, they developed recipes and meal plans to make following a protein-redistribution diet simple, healthy and appetizing.
"When you have the correct information about Parkinson's you can adapt rather than just feeling overwhelmed," says Keith Goobie, 55, a Parkinson's patient in the Jeff and Diane Ross Movement Disorders Clinic who was diagnosed in 2010. "The information I've received from working with Dr. Kleiner-Fisman has been empowering. I hope this website will enable more people with Parkinson's to benefit from that same level of empowerment."
The website, which was developed by students in George Brown's Centre for Construction and Engineering Technologies, launched on June 20.
Dr. Robert Luke, Assistant Vice President of Research and Innovation at George Brown, says the Live Well with Parkinson's project has been a valuable learning opportunity for students in both the Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts, and the Centre for Construction and Engineering Technologies.
"This initiative provided a unique opportunity for students to gain hands-on experience while working directly with industry professionals and patients. They learned how their careers can enhance the quality of life for those with chronic conditions," says Luke. "George Brown was able to provide the team at Baycrest access to highly qualified staff, faculty and students, a state-of-the-art simulation environment at FIRSt, and much-needed funding to take their project from concept to commercialization. It's win-win."
The project was supported and funded by the Jeff and Diane Ross Movement Disorders Clinic at Baycrest, The Assistive Technology Clinic, the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care Academic Health Science Centre's Alternative Funding Plan (AFP) Innovation Fund, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada (NSERC) College and Community Innovation (CCI) program.
SOURCE: George Brown College
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