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The HRM Chapter of the MS Society of Canada wrapped up MS Awareness Month 2014 with an education session on May 28 in Dartmouth that attracted a crowd of more than 60 people with or affected by MS. The Brain Repair Centre sponsored the event, which provided attendees with the latest scientifically proven information about how people with MS can manage their symptoms and enhance their health and wellbeing through diet and lifestyle.

Dr. Christine Short, a Dalhousie/Capital Health physiatrist and member of the Brain Repair Centre, shared her insights on how people with MS can manage the barriers that make it difficult to incorporate exercise into their daily lives. She also spoke about the importance of bone health and adequate vitamin D intake for people with MS, and new data on the benefits of fampridine.

Attendees also learned about the new guidelines for exercise for people with MS, which recommend two half-hour cardio sessions and two strength-training sessions per week as a minimum activity level for maintaining strength and balance and managing fatigue. Physiotherapist Susan Ehler presented these guidelines, along with plenty of helpful advice gleaned from her many years of experience working with MS patients.

Dietitian Karen Gibson explained the difference between fact and fiction in the latest diet trends for persons with MS. In contrast to some of the newer "fad" diets, which recommend leaving out certain food groups, Karen recommends following Canada’s food guide and enjoying all food groups, as each contains important nutrients. She also noted that the research suggests a daily vitamin-D intake between 2000mg and 4000mg, and advised attendees to keep their family doctor and pharmacist informed of all the vitamins they are taking.

A highlight of the evening was the presentation of the Scott Gillis Client Service Award. Longtime HRM Chapter member and local inspiration, Sandy Wood, received the award from Monica Jordon, Director of Volunteer Programs and Client Services, MS Society Atlantic Division. The Scott Gillis Client Service Award acknowledges the heroic efforts of people living with MS who have demonstrated leadership or inspired others to work in service for their community, maintained a positive outlook despite personal challenges, and shown dependability and commitment to advancing the mission of the MS Society of Canada. The award was created to acknowledge the positive impact of advocate and board member, Scott Gillis, in improving the lives of those around him.

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