The Inspiration To Research And Treat Spinal Cord Injury
A Personal Note From Kylie James
For those who don’t know me, I’m Kylie James, a Certified Nutritionist and the founder of Koru Nutrition. It’s a question that comes up often enough, so thought it would be nice to take some time to share why I became interested in Spinal Cord Injury (SCI).
In August 2009, my then 11-month-old nephew became a C3-C4 incomplete quadriplegic as a result of medical negligence. Cooper had undergone surgery to address an extradural hematoma in his spine, but the treatment team failed to recognize his worsening symptoms following surgery, which led to the build-up of pressure on his spinal cord injury resulting in his ultimate injury.
My sister and her husband were told that he would not be able to use his hands or legs and would be living with a tracheostomy for the rest of his life. Obviously, this was devastating for my family.
Life for my nephew and family have been tough. Fortunately, he was able to get off the tracheostomy but morning and evening routines are busy with catheters, tube feeds, making special meals, suctioning, and enemas. They also require special vans, wheelchairs and various other adaptive devices. Basic activities such as popping around to a friend’s house is difficult as homes are not accessible.
In primary school, it was tough for Cooper to try to make friends as so many activities involved sports and physical activities which he could not do. Thankfully, Cooper discovered Power Chair Football and at the early age of 9 he made the New Zealand power chair football team, competing in various tournaments against Australia. He has been voted “most up and coming athlete” and was the second highest goal scorer in New Zealand!
In the photo above Cooper is pictured with his brother and my daughter.
Cooper is now 14 years old and has just started high school. When he grows up he wants to be a sports commentator, coach, or design houses.
To hear more about Cooper’s life now, check out the video below that I filmed with him:
Naturally, after my nephew had his injury in 2009, I desperately started researching any kind of resources I could to help my family. I was an occupational therapist and a nutritionist, so I felt I must be able to help somehow.
I had seen a student at my nutrition school that was in a wheelchair and reached out to connect with her and learn about her experience with spinal cord injury. It turns out that we were both working in the auto insurance field and a friendship quickly developed.
We would often meet up to discuss nutrition as it relates to brain injury and spinal cord injury and realized that there was very limited literature out there on nutrition with spinal cord injury. With this in mind we decided to embark on writing a book to pool together all the resources and studies that related specifically to nutrition and SCI. We applied to the Americans Veterans of America for a grant and won it!
Over the next 2 years we read many articles and researched secondary health complications that SCI individuals are prone to, foods and supplements that would be the best fit for their condition and developed recipes that were easy to make and cost effective to support specific health issues.
If you’re interested in how nutrition can support those with SCI, check out Eat Well, Live Well With Spinal Cord Injury:
Once we finished the book, we began attending various conferences presenting on the topic of nutrition spinal cord injury. One of the things that we found in researching and writing the book was there was limited studies specific to nutrition and SCI. So, part of our goal was to inspire research in this area!
Joanne Smith and I have now completed 3 studies together. The first two were at Brock University on the impact of inflammation on mood following an SCI and the other on the impact of cytokines on the body in relation pain in individuals with SCI. Our latest study was just recently published, and took place at Maryland University on the impact of aquatic exercise and nutrition on cardiometabolic function.
I’m so excited to share our most recently published study!
If you, a client, or someone you love is managing life after a spinal cord injury – we’d love to be of support! Send me an email to [email protected], call us at 1-855-386-5678, or schedule your consultation here.