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Transition to Rehab Management

Nutrition and Food Interactions

Published March 14, 2012 5:04 PM by Karen Schiff

This week has added another new role to the agenda. As a foster mom to four-legged creatures on a consistent basis (and subsequently adopting all), I took in two three-week-old kittens who would have otherwise been without a chance to survive. After this morning's feeding of kitten "formula," which looks and smells a lot like baby formula, I sit here reading the ingredients on the powder mixture. I have been reading labels for a while now, but this is different. Really different. It brought up some thoughts for this post.

The topics that I have touched upon most recently with patients are quite different from what I discussed with them in the past. The most dramatic change has been "What is your typical diet like?" Of course, I realize most people will not be the most truthful when asked this question. However, I believe once it is brought to their attention, they might reconsider what they are putting in their mouths. At the very least, I recommend that patients familiarize themselves with labels on food and focus on fiber.

As a provider for patients with urinary and fecal incontinence, this is one of my primary questions. It has become apparent that I must have a basic concept of nutrition, stay on top of the latest fads and research, as well as maintain an overall understanding of interactions of food and medication in the human body. Patients undoubtedly come to us with more information than ever before, and it is our responsibility to be able to explain it or point them in the direction of the health care professional who can.

Surely this is a complicated issue. Perhaps some of us believe it is beyond our scope of practice. However, I think in order to effectively address some patients, it is necessary to have a better understanding of physiology and food interactions. Continuing education is a great place to start for some of us. Having a resource such as a dietician/nutritionist to contact may be another option. With this information, we may be better equipped to formulate an exercise treatment plan for patients with digestive disorders.

Now there is silence, as all bellies are full. Time to head off to the first hospital today, lunch at the second hospital, followed by an afternoon of outpatient rehabilitation. Last but not least, the final unit of differential diagnosis in the quest for my t-DPT.


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