Shelley is a lifelong advocate of nutrition. When she isn’t working with her patients, she can be found in her greenhouse or kitchen. She obtained her B.S. in Nutritional Science from San Jose State University (SJSU) in 2012. She completed her dietetic internship at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center (VMC) in 2013 and was hired as a full-time clinician a month after its completion.  She continued her education while honing her clinical skills and obtained her Master’s in Public Health in 2016 from the University of New England. Soon after, she became a lecturer at SJSU and currently teaches Advanced Medical Nutrition Therapy.

Not long after she began her work at VMC, Shelley was assigned to the Rehab Respiratory and Acute Rehab Units. She enjoyed a steep learning curve in SCI rehab but has been able to employ her clinical knowledge as well as the knowledge she has obtained by working closely with the SCI population and the unit’s tight-knit team.

Shelley partnered with the Rehabilitation Research Team at VMC in 2018 and they were awarded a grant from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, with help from the VMC Foundation, to work with 15 participants in a tele-nutrition study using iPads and a photo journaling app. The aim of this Quality of Life study was to connect patients who discharge farther away to a dietitian for consistent, ongoing nutrition counseling and to bridge the gap between inpatient and life afterwards, thus establishing solid nutritional habits.

“The role nutrition plays is well established in the general, able-bodied population. Those with spinal cord injuries are living longer due to advances in medical practice and cutting edge therapy. This population is now at risk for the same chronic diseases that poor nutritional habits lead to in the able-bodied population. Unfortunately, for those with SCI, it is much worse. Without establishing healthy nutritional habits early on, this population is at risk for rapid weight gain (or loss), pressure ulcers, diabetes, and chronic heart disease, among other risks,“ says Shelley.