Saturday, August 15, 2009

a Swank Diet and Casino Therapy

Why do North America and Western Europe have considerably higher rates of MS than the rest of the world? Why is MS, 8 times more prevalent for inland populations than those living along the coast of Norway?

60 years ago, Dr. Roy Swank, University of Oregon Medical School, decided to study the relationship between diet and MS.

Swank’s study spanned 35 years and tracked over 150 MS patients; half following his Swank diet and the other half a standard western diet, high in saturated fat, dairy products and meats.


Swank Diet participants had 80% reduction of MS exacerbations during the first 3 years; only 5 % of these patients suffered any deterioration after 35 years.

We never ‘got’ the easy to follow aspect of the diet. Between juggling spouse caregiver, raising our daughter, homemaking, and working … meal planning and preparation became expendable. Nor could “Meals on Wheels” and/or home health aides be expected to comply. Most importantly, Patti had STRONG feelings about what she ‘likes’ and does ‘not like’ to eat, delivery is only a phone call away.

Reading the recent issue of NMSS Momentum magazine, The skinny on the Swank MS Diet, reminded me of the debate over diet and MS.

While studies are studies, sometimes you just stumble onto solutions. Tonight we discovered Casino Therapy.

We found ol’ fashioned, one-armed bandit, slot machines at Hollywood Casino. Parking Patti in her wheelchair on the side of an end machine, I was able to prompt Patti to alternate stretching her left and right arm out pulling the slot machine arm for over an hour (minus cigarette breaks).

For whatever reason, Patti rarely uses her left arm, and exercise in general is tough in a wheelchair. Tonight’s workout must be a record and even cheaper than physical therapy since we started with $1 and left with $1.

We wrapped it up with snacks track side at the adjoining race track enjoying the summer night.

Cigarettes, soda, and cookies are NO Swank Diet but then again Casino Therapy has got to count for something. No teaspoon of cod liver oil could equal as many smiles or as much laughter.

Caregivingly Yours, Patrick Leer
web site:
musings: Patrick Ponders ...


  1. your last sentence said it all, Patrick. while I believe that there are diets that are beneficial for this condition or that condition, there is also life being lived. regimented routines are hard to accomplish day after day after day with other responsibilities and people's preferences. I know there's a diet out there to help with autism, but if the person is not going to eat what is on the diet, what is the benefit of it?

    glad you could have fun and laughs at such a low investment :)


  2. The most important thing you can't get with dieting and that is laughter and joy. Sounds like you both have lots of that.

  3. Casino, Patti likes them too, I go once a month to HoChunk in WI, where my sister Peg and her husband Tom live, I bring my $20 and either win or lose and have a blast, wish Patti could come with us too! Have a great weekend.
    Patricia in Chicago

  4. I went twice, won both times, great fun...but man were my arms tired pushing my manual wheelchair around and the SMOKE! I couldn't handle it. I still buy lotto tickets too, don't win, but seems to help my MS. Yep, that's the reason I play. Yep.

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