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MSWA Bulletin Magazine Spring 2022

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Celebrating 50 years of MSWA | Our commitment to research | New technology taking the pressure off | Water, life, the universe and everything!

RESEARCH A DECADE IN THE

RESEARCH A DECADE IN THE MAKING: MILLION COMMITTED TO NEUROLOGICAL RESEARCH OVER THE LAST DECADE Over the past decade MSWA has contributed over million to fund research into finding the cause, better treatments and a cure for MS and other neurological conditions. We are excited and proud to announce that in the 2022/23 financial year, we are committing a further million to neurological research. This new contribution means MSWA has contributed over million to local, national and international research over a decade. We believe that research provides hope for people living with a neurological condition and will ultimately improve the lives of our Clients and all people supported by MSWA. Our understanding of MS and neurological conditions has improved significantly over the years. It’s thanks to Western Australians supporting our fundraising initiatives and lotteries that we can continue to make these significant contributions. “I am delighted to continue our funding of neurological research, including WA research projects, which we believe will lead to finding the cause, better treatments, and hopefully one day, a cure for many neurological conditions.” MSWA CEO Melanie Kiely said of the announcement. “We truly can’t thank our supporters enough for continuing to trust us to support people with neurological conditions, and fund vital research not only here in Western Australia but nationally and internationally too.” For more information about MSWA’s commitment to research and research projects we are currently funding visit our Commitment to Research page. RESEARCHER IN FOCUS: PHD CANDIDATE REBECCA RUSSELL MSWA funded PhD candidate, Rebecca Russell, who is part of Associate Prof. Lucinda Black’s team at Curtin University, takes us through her contributions to the ‘Elucidating diet in MS to improve disease outcomes’. MSWA’s funding has been supporting this work for over six years. 1. Could you provide an overview of your current research project? With the help of people with MS and MS health professionals, we are developing an evidence-based online nutrition education program to provide people with MS the information they need about diets, foods and changing eating habits. The internet hosts a wealth of information, not all of which is correct. The influx of information can be overwhelming, confusing and conflicting, making it difficult for people to navigate and access information that aligns with the Australian Dietary Guidelines. To make it easier and simpler for people with MS, we will provide clear advice on beneficial dietary changes and how to make healthy food choices. In addition, the program will help with selecting, planning, preparing, and cooking foods to create healthy meals. The program and its effects on diet quality will be continually tested and updated in a study to improve the quality of life for people with MS. The findings from this study will then be used to develop a larger scale, randomised and controlled trial to gauge the impact. 2. What attracted you to the research around the impact of diet on MS? As a chef, I have always had a strong connection to food, healthy diets and people. Over the years, I became fascinated by how people interact with food and how I can make a difference to people’s lives. This encouraged me to do further studies in nutrition and get into research. When I saw the chance to get involved in MS research, I searched the internet to find out what information was out there about diets and MS and was dismayed by how much conflicting advice there was. I am passionate about helping people make healthy dietary changes that could benefit their symptom management and their overall health. I am privileged to have had so many people with MS share their stories with me through my research. This has inspired me to develop this nutrition education program, which will assist people with MS and their families, not just in WA, but across Australia. 3. What do you hope the outcome of this research will be? I hope that this nutrition education program will help people with MS make healthy dietary changes that will be beneficial to their overall health, as well as their MS symptoms. I also trust it will teach them how to sift through conflicting information and equip them with the knowledge and skills needed to manage symptoms such as fatigue, while selecting, planning, preparing and cooking foods to create healthy meals. I am confident the program will be well suited to the needs of people with MS and that they will enjoy completing it. 4. What’s next? We have developed an online nutrition education program which includes a range of information, such as interactive graphics, expert videos featuring people with MS and MS health professionals, activities and engaging discussions around nutrition questions. We are continuously fine-tuning and improving the program based on the helpful feedback we have received from people with MS on the first module. My research team and I are at a very exciting stage where we are ready to test the program. Each module will take around one hour per week to complete. To find out more please contact MSDietProject@curtin.edu.au 6 7

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