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:
- 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.
Clinical Training at The Health First Memory Disorder Clinic
Located just a quarter of a mile from the Florida Tech campus, The Memory Disorder Clinic hosts 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 neuropsychological tests assessing cognition across multiple domains such as learning and memory, attention and processing speed, executive functioning, expressive and receptive language, and visual-spatial skills
- Developing the ability to conceptualize 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.)
- Learning how to write comprehensive neuropsychological reports with diagnostic impressions and tailored recommendations
- Developing communication and interaction skills with other medical and healthcare professionals including a gerontologist, neurologist, psychiatrist, nurse practitioners, licensed clinical social workers, and pharmacists, including 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. Ample opportunities also exist 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 and mental health 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 has consistently been described by students as being very collegial and educational from a clinical training perspective.
Research at The Health First Memory Disorder Clinic
Involvement in the clinical activities outlined above allows interested students to become involved in many ongoing applied clinical research projects as well. Some examples of recent projects are highlighted below:
- 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)
- Exploring the clinical utility of various neuropsychological tests in predicting overall levels of impairment or diagnostic outcome
*Denny, A., *Bartley, K., *Edwards, S., Webbe, F.M., and LoGalbo, A. (2020). AD8 Patient–Informant Discrepancy Predicts Insight and Cognitive Impairment in Alzheimer’s Disease. Geriatric Nursing, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gerinurse.2020.08.009
*signifies graduate students