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ABR partners up with a nutritionist

Last November, at the Acquired Brain Injury Provincial Conference, organized by the Ontario Brain Injury Association, we had the opportunity to meet Joanne Smith, certified nutritional practitioner and co-author of the book Eat Well, Live Well with Spinal Cord Injury & Other Neurological Conditions.  She runs a successful nutrition business, specializing in providing optimal nutritional health for people with disabilities, with special interest in spinal cord injury.  Joanne has presented at conferences across Canada.

Her expertise in the disability community comes from her personal experience of living with a spinal cord injury for twenty-five years, as well as her years as host and producer of two national television programs focusing on in-depth stories about Canadians with disabilities, the Gemini award-winning CBC show Moving On and Accessibility in Action. 

Joanne’s dedication to raising awareness and improving the lives of Canadians with  disabilities led to her receiving the King Clancy Award in 2006, being inducted into the Terry Fox Hall of Fame in 2007 and being honored with the Gabriel Award in 2008.

ABR’s approach piqued her curiosity and she decided to attend our last Thrive and Flourish session in Toronto.  She was absolutely thrilled by the experience:  ‘Just wanted to let you know that I attended the introductory session yesterday with Marianna and the new parents. It was absolutely fascinating and Marianna is such a wonderful speaker/therapist! …’

 We concluded that her nutritional knowledge in the domain would be a fantastic complement to ABR’s trans-fascial approach.

Joanne will be writing a monthly nutritional blog for ABR Americas.  Here is what she has to say…

Any parent living with a child with Cerebral Palsy, or any other neurological condition, knows that nutrition has not traditionally played a significant role in their child’s rehabilitation or long term health care.  Trying to find accessible facilities or even information that caters to the unique nutritional needs of children with disabilities (the people who in many cases need this form of complimentary and preventative health care the most) is extremely difficult.  

Nutrition has a profound impact on one’s physical, spiritual and mental health: this is particularly relevant for someone living with a chronic neurological condition.

Good health starts with a healthy digestive system.   However, neurological injuries and conditions can significantly hinder one’s digestion, absorption and elimination functions.   This in turn can contribute to the development of a host of common and recurring secondary health complications such as; cardiovascular disease, pressure sores, weakened immune function, respiratory infections, osteoporosis, neurological pain, constipation, bladder infections and obesity.

Furthermore, many prescribed medications, while necessary, can deplete the body of nutrients and/or cause negative side effects.  As a result, proper digestive function is further inhibited and this increases the risk of developing potentially dangerous secondary health issues.   As parents of children living with compromised systems, we need to ensure that their digestive system and other bodily functions are working optimally so they can live to their best ability. 

Proper nutrition is essential in helping you achieve these goals.

However, changing eating habits is not easy and parents of children with disabilities face added challenges such as: knowing which foods are best for a particular health complication; budget constraints; and for children with decreased muscle function (who may have difficulty swallowing or with meal prep) finding easy ways to prepare and eat foods.

That’s why I am so excited to join ABR Americas via a monthly nutritional blog!  Each month I will provide simple, yet vital information, tips and recipes on ways you and your family can incorporate healthy eating into your daily routine, support overall health and address many of the common secondary health conditions that you face.

You won’t want to miss it!


If any parents would like to have a personal appointment with her to get advice for their child, you may contact her directly at:

Joanne Smith



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