The fourth annual York University Youth Diabetes Sports Camp has come to an end. Yet there remains plenty to celebrate. York’s KMb Unit was proud to witness the successful conclusion to a unique knowledge mobilization initiative. Being there every step of the way during the two weeks of the Diabetes Sports Camp, we experienced a valuable partnership in action that was unique in its composition. This partnership was between the youth participants at the camp who were engaged in their sport of interest (tennis, basketball, soccer or track and field) and the research team that was focused on learning more about glucose regulation during exercise and the prevention of hypoglycemia. This partnership flourished and provided everyone involved with plenty of fun, learning experiences, and invaluable data for research on type 1 diabetes metabolism.
During last year’s camp, Dr. Michael Riddell conducted a study that examined the relationship between blood glucose levels and sports performance for youth ages 6-17. These youth had their blood glucose levels monitored in real time using new technology supplied by Medtronic Canada for the week as they engaged in soccer, basketball, or tennis, and even as they slept. The goal was to see how sports performance is affected by oscillations in blood sugar levels. The study, which was published this year in the International Journal of Pediatrics, found that optimal athletic performance was observed when blood glucose levels were in the normal range. A slight deterioration in performance was observed when blood sugar levels were a little bit above the normal range. However, the study found that there was considerable deterioration in performance when blood glucose levels were lower than the normal range (4-7 mmol); this is a condition called hypoglycemia.
This year Dr. Riddell and his team are advancing this area of research by collecting data using real time glucose monitoring on a newly developed carbohydrate intake algorithm that prevents hypoglycemia during exercise. With this research, they hope to optimize nutritional strategies for the prevention of low blood sugar in young active individuals with type 1 diabetes.
This research is the first of its kind to be tested outside of the laboratory in a field setting. However, what may be equally important is the process of knowledge exchange that the Diabetes Sports Camp has facilitated. Besides the fun and excitement that the young campers got throughout the duration of the camp, they were also taught various strategies to help manage their diabetes and encouraged to share their experiences with other campers who have diabetes. In return, Dr. Riddell received important data for his research that he plans to share in an upcoming symposium at the International Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Diabetes (ISPAD), taking place from October 27 – 30, 2010 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. This is classic KMb, bi-directional flow of knowledge that can help inform health policy, foster emerging research questions, as well as inform individual practices in safe blood sugar regulation in young patients with type 1 diabetes. This is KMb that is practical and benefits all parties involved.