Wellness Program tailored to your needs

by ih-mis admin

Frequently Asked Questions and an Interview with Emily Smith, MS, RD, LN – our own Wellness Program Registered Dietitian

What is the Missoula Bone & Joint Wellness Program?
This is a unique, integrative program that combines exercise consultations by a licensed Physical Therapist with nutrition counseling by a Registered Dietitian for your comprehensive orthopedic care.  We also provide nutrition-only packages and single-session nutrition consultations for those people interested in focusing solely on nutrition.  These are also great options for patients who are already established with a physical therapy or exercise routine.
Emily, How did you get involved with this program?
I was hired on at Missoula Bone & Joint in 2014 to help create this Wellness Program with Linsey Olson, MBJ physical therapist.  Together we found a shared passion for helping people create sustainable lifestyle changes for a variety of wellness goals.  We also saw a great need in the field of orthopedics and sports medicine for integrative and specialized weight management support.  Typically, most programs geared at weight management do not provide specialists in both exercise and nutrition, which are both integral to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle.  
Why is physical therapy important?
Exercise prescription and monitoring by a licensed physical therapist – an expert in body mechanics and musculoskeletal health – can assure safe return to activity, prevent further injury, and can help manage pain.  Unlike joining a gym or class, a physical therapist will perform an initial evaluation regarding your medical history and activity tolerance to create a personalized exercise program that is achievable for any age, body type, or fitness level. 
“Why nutrition at Missoula Bone & Joint?” – What does a Registered Dietitian do and how does nutrition relate to orthopedic care?
A Registered Dietitian (RD), also called a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), is a specialized food and nutrition practitioner that provides the highest level of qualified nutrition counseling.  RDs must complete years of education in a program with accredited nutrition curriculum, complete an extensive supervised program of practice (an internship similar to a residency), and pass a national registration examination.  In their career, dietitians work can work in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, schools, private practice, worksite wellness, community health, and even in foodservice facilities such as restaurants or grocery stores.  Although many other health care practitioners discuss diet and nutrition with their patients, few have as much education in nutrition science as dietitians do, unless they seek out additional training.
In my position here at Missoula Bone & Joint, it is my goal to educate fellow practitioners and the public on the vital importance of nutrition in orthopedics, sports medicine, and physical therapy.  Nutrition is essential for not only maintaining a healthy weight for our joints, but for also improving surgical outcomes, healing from wounds or injury, and correcting any nutrient deficiencies that may pose risk to our bone and musculoskeletal health.  It is also my hope to provide evidenced-based nutrition therapy on a variety of other health concerns, such as digestive issues, chronic disease prevention, cooking/meal planning, and basic sports nutrition for our student athletes. 
What is your training and background? 
I have studied health sciences ever since taking a sports medicine class in high school.  It was there that I found my passion for health and wellness.  I then obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science from Gonzaga University, and subsequently worked as a physical therapy aide for three years prior to my graduate work in nutrition.  In 2013 I obtained my Master of Science degree in Nutrition from Bastyr University outside of Seattle, Washington, where I was trained in natural and integrative medicine with an emphasis on whole foods.  I completed my dietetic internship in 2014 through Montana State University and completed my clinical rotations at St. Patrick Hospital, where I also continue to work part-time, as an oncology dietitian.  I am a Licensed Nutritionist through the State of Montana (only Registered Dietitians may hold this licensure), and also hold a certificate of training in adult weight management.
Who should participate in the Wellness Program and/or nutrition consultations, and what should patients expect?
We welcome people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds for any health or wellness concern.  This program is of particular benefit for those who struggle with their weight, managing muscle or joint pain, have delayed healing from surgery or injury, or who have risk factors for chronic disease.  When you participate in the combined exercise and nutrition package, Linsey, our physical therapist, will evaluate your current level of fitness and any barriers to activity, then create a home or gym-based exercise plan which will continue to be adjusted based upon your progress.  We will also measure additional indicators of health, such as waist circumference and blood pressure.  Body composition scans are also available for an additional fee.  When patients meet with myself for nutrition, I will evaluate your eating habits and medical history to provide individualized and tailored nutrition counseling, and education on a variety of topics to help you enhance your health through our first and foremost medicine, food.  
Do I have to be an established patient at Missoula Bone & Joint to participate?
No.  Everyone in the community can join our program.
What is your own philosophy of wellness, and how do you translate that to patient care?
I am always in awe of the power of food.  Not just because of its ability to prevent chronic disease or fuel our lifestyle, but by its vast ability to unite and heal.  Food is medicine, but it is also comfort, love, celebration, and healing.  And food is universal.  It is one of the rare connections we all share, regardless of size, shape, gender, race, or religion.  But incidentally, it is one of the greatest sources of our diversity.  I am passionate about the role of nutrition in wellness because it is so deeply personal and individualized.  What works for one person will likely not work for the next.  This instead creates a beautiful relationship between the dietitian and patient to brainstorm a personal path to wellness and making peace with food.  In our nutrition consultations, we will practice mindful eating and discuss how to add nutrition to your daily life (rather than restricting), among many other topics of concern.  In a world laden with fad diets, quick fixes, and body-shaming language, I aim to provide sensitive, respectful nutrition counseling using a weight-neutral approach.  Coincidently, the Latin root of the word “diet” actually means “a way of life” – so let’s enhance your way of life.  Together, let us help you heal, nourish, and grow through sustainable health practices.  

For more information regarding our Wellness Program, please call 542-4702 to speak with Emily or Linsey.