Health First Memory Disorder Clinic
The Health First Memory Disorder Clinic is a not-for-profit agency funded primarily through the Alzheimer’s disease Initiative of the State of Florida Department of Elder Affairs for the purpose of providing services for individuals in the community who are concerned about Alzheimer’s disease or related disorders. As the sixth of 17 officially designated memory clinics statewide, the Health First Memory Disorder Clinic is a busy medical practice comprised of a geriatrician, geriatric nurse practitioners, and social workers, which covers a broad service area including Brevard, Indian River, Osceola, Southern Volusia, and St. Lucie counties. The clinic is a collaborative effort between Health First Aging Institute and the Florida Tech School of Psychology.
The Mission Of The Health First Memory Disorder Clinic Is:
- To provide the most effective assessment approach for the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders.
- To provide educational information to all members of the community affected by Alzheimer’s disease or related disorders
- To support, educate and train both family and professional caregivers in best practices related to memory disorders.
Florida Tech Students And The Health First Memory Disorder Clinic
Located just a quarter of a mile from the Florida Tech campus, The Memory Disorder Clinic hosts internship and research opportunities for upper level undergraduate students, and supervised clinical training
in geropsychology and neuropsychology for doctoral students in Clinical Psychology from Florida Tech. There are also opportunities for partial funding as a Graduate Tuition Scholar (for first year students) and/or Graduate Student Assistantships (for subsequent years). Clinical training includes gaining familiarity with navigating electronic medical records, learning how to administer, score, and interpret a battery of common neuropsychological tests assessing cognition across multiple domains, conceptualizing test results in the context of patients’ clinical history with an emphasis on differential diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and dementia subtypes (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies, fronto-temporal dementia, etc.), writing comprehensive neuropsychological reports with diagnostic impressions and tailored recommendations, and presenting neuropsychological findings and diagnostic impressions during a weekly interdisciplinary case conference.
Direct clinical supervision is conducted by Anthony LoGalbo, Ph.D., ABPP-CN, who is a core clinical faculty member of the Florida Tech Psy.D. Program, and a board-certified clinical neuropsychologist with fellowship training in gerontology and neuropsychology and over 15 years of experience working in geriatrics and memory disorder populations. However, ample opportunities also exist at the Memory Disorder Clinic for informal instruction and interactions with healthcare professionals from a variety of related fields, including gerontology, neurology, psychiatry, social work, nursing, and pharmacology, particularly during weekly interdisciplinary case conferences. Students will learn about comorbid medical conditions and medications that can negatively impact cognition particularly in an aging population, be exposed to interpretation of neuroradiology images (CT and MRI), and occasionally review neuropathology results from the Florida Brain Bank.
An exciting component of this specialized neuropsychological training involves interpretation of a cognitive test battery to make an accurate differential diagnosis. Unlike many other presenting neurological conditions that are already “known” to exist based on neuroimaging findings (e.g., the location of a stroke, brain tumor, etc.), neuropsychological assessments are often relied upon heavily in the medical community to assist in making a differential diagnosis among elderly presenting with memory complaints. This is an excellent opportunity to gain experience and insight regarding the role of neuropsychology in a busy medical/healthcare setting, but it also appeals to students pursuing training in health psychology given the medical population and interdisciplinary nature of the experience. Additionally, the interactive environment at the Memory Disorder Clinic has consistently been described by students as being very collegial and educational from a clinical training perspective. Involvement in these clinical activities allows interested students to become involved in many ongoing applied research projects as well. Some examples of recent research projects are highlighted below.
Some of our recent research projects include:
- Obtaining normative data for specific cognitive tests among elderly and the “oldest old”
- Exploring variables that predict outcomes among individuals diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)
- Determining whether comparisons of patient- and caregiver-reported cognitive problems can serve as a measure of insight, or anosognosia
- Exploring the clinical utility of various neuropsychological tests in predicting overall levels of impairment or diagnostic outcome