Interdisciplinary BC Brain Wellness Program underway at UBC Hospital

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The recent celebrations to launch the BC Brain Wellness Program were a very happy moment for VPSA member neurologist Dr. Silke Cresswell and her colleagues. She, along with sports medicine physician Dr. Jack Taunton, came up with the idea for the program.

“Our goal is to establish clinically relevant lifestyle approaches to complement medical treatment in the clinics at the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health,” said Dr. Cresswell. “We are hoping to eventually establish a provincial network of wellness programs to support people living with chronic brain disorders and their care partners. We’re also working to prevent, or at least delay, brain disease by encouraging healthy aging people to participate.”

Clinicians and scientists work closely with the program participants, who are encouraged to play an active role in their care. The program aims to include exercise, music, visual, and performing arts components, as well as mindfulness, nutrition and opportunities to be in nature. The program is currently rolled out with more activities to be piloted in the new year.

“The program is bringing the community together,” added Dr. Cresswell. “We’re creating great connections with patients and their families as well as across disciplines at UBC and VCH. People are very positive and there’s a great can-do sense and energy.”

Dr. Cresswell notes that brain conditions can be isolating, so creating opportunities for social integration and community are crucial for happiness and longevity.

“We want to improve the quality of life for people living with brain disorders. We know, for instance, people with Parkinson’s disease do much better when they participate in exercise. By combining clinical care with interventions that support healthier lifestyles, we’re hoping to improve and sustain quality of life and work to prevent the onset of brain disorders as people age.”

Dr. Cresswell takes her clinical advice to heart: she builds exercise into her day by doing things like biking to work and she also participates in musical activities. She enjoys connecting with people, eats healthy foods, practices mindfulness, and aims to get enough sleep (although, she admits, there is still plenty of room for improvement…). She is a member of VPSA’s Community Building and Wellness task group and encourages her colleagues to take an active role in their own wellness and participate in VPSA’s events.

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