Autism and the Gut Biome: What Pediatric PTs Need to Know

Nov 15, 2021

By Dr. Sean M. Wells, DPT, PT, OCS, ATC/L, CSCS, NSCA-CPT, CNPT, Cert-DN

Autism is a condition that affects nearly 1 in 50 children. Covering a wide spectrum of symptoms, autism is often associated with delayed milestones, difficulty socializing, and/or sensitivity to sensory stimuli. The main cause of autism still remains to be seen; however, there is compelling evidence that individuals with autism have a markedly different gut microbiome compared to normally developed children. Such thinking has lead to alternative therapies and treatments, which many parents may pursue to help their child improve their autism symptoms. Fortunately, data from a recent study in Cell sheds light on the gut biome differences and how some alternative therapies may not ideal.

Chloe Yap from Mater Research and The University of Queensland said the team examined genetic material from the stool samples of 247 children, which included 99 children diagnosed with autism. After examining the diet and stool...

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Calorie Restriction and Physical Therapy

Oct 20, 2021

By Dr. Sean M. Wells, DPT, PT, OCS, ATC/L, CSCS, NSCA-CPT, CNPT, Cert-DN

Diet crazes come and go in the hopes to correct health issues and for weight loss. Many diets are merely fads, not backed by evidence, and/or offer only short-term solutions. One dietary pattern that stands out from the pack is calorie restriction (CR), especially in regards to data on longevity. I have 2 peer-review publications in the area of CR and intermittent fasting, so I can share both the data and experiences of this diet. Let's take a quick look at calorie restriction and what physical therapists (PTs) need to know!

Calorie restriction is a dietary regimen where a person consumes typically 25-40% less calories than usual. In order to accomplish this calorie deficit a person must know their total daily caloric needs over several days. Calculating 25-40% of this total calorie needs a client can then reduce their calorie content of each meal in order to hit their calorie deficit. Usually there is not...

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Should PTs Use a New Model for Weight Loss?

Sep 16, 2021

By Dr. Sean M. Wells, DPT, PT, OCS, ATC/L, CSCS, NSCA-CPT, CNPT, Cert-DN

For decades the predominant model that dictated weight gain, loss, or maintenance was the energy balance model (EBM). The EBM is rooted in one of the basic laws of thermodynamics. It goes without saying that food contains energy and it is typically measured in a unit known as calories (kilocalories in the dietary world). As a person consumes food it provides energy to do work such as exercise, activities of daily living (ADL), physical therapy, basic living functions, or even sport. Energy can come from recently consumed food or stored energy (e.g. fat, glycogen, or protein) from previously eaten food. 

Clinicians often explain weight loss to patients as “calories-in versus calories-out” or CICO, which directly relates to the EBM. In brief, CICO helps rehab professionals to explain to clients the balance between the energy coming into their body versus the energy they expend: too much food...

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Top 3 Tips for Geriatric Rehab and Nutrition

Aug 27, 2021

By Dr. Sean M Wells, DPT, PT, OCS, ATC, CSCS, CNPT, NSCA-CPT, Cert-DN

Exercise is certainly medicine but what if we could do more for our older adult clients? As physical therapists (PTs), occupational therapists (OTs), or personal trainers we strive to push our clients with the best exercise selection and most evidenced-based techniques to improve our clients’ strength, balance, and function. But what if all we are doing is for not because of a client’s poor diet? 

I have seen this time and time again in my clinical practice: a client enters my practice, I examine them and find weakness and balance deficits; we begin a program of resistance training, balance and neuromuscular work, and notably see little change in their function. As I dive deeper into their lifestyle factors (e.g. sleep, stress management, and nutrition) I find they don’t eat enough, drink too much alcohol, and consume overly processed foods devoid of essential nutrients.  Could these...

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Nutrition: To Collaborate or Not?

Jun 17, 2021

By Dr. Sean M Wells, DPT, PT, OCS, ATC, CSCS, CNPT, NSCA-CPT, Cert-DN

Can you recall a recent treatment session or patient case where you connected with another fellow physical therapist (PT), occupational therapist (OT), or speech therapist (ST)? Overall the treatment session or case probably went well, right? Both you and the other provider worked together, solved several problems, and/or potentially identified major issues that changed the course of rehabilitation. 

In this example it is easy for us in rehabilitation to see how easy it is to collaborate with other rehab professionals -- but what about dieticians? My team and I have long argued that PTs ought to work more collaboratively with these healthcare providers. Let me delve into several reasons why and examples of how nutrition collaboration benefits all.

Dietitians' Education

Dietitians are educated and clinically trained to work with many challenging populations. Their 4 year college education and clinical training...

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