By Erin Alessandroni
Penn Memory Center Director of Cognitive Fitness Programs and Neuropsychological Services Dawn Mechanic-Hamilton, PhD, ABPP/CN, recently received an Institute on Aging (IOA) pilot grant for a project focused on apathy in patients with neurodegenerative disease. The grant for her project, titled “Development of a Goal-Directed Behavior App: Changing Apathy into Action in Neurodegenerative Disease,” began on July 1.
In dementia patients, apathy, or impairment of goal-directed behavior, is a symptom that has a significant negative impact on a patient’s ability to engage in everyday activities and can increase care partner burden. The project aims to develop a mobile app that will increase goal-directed behavior and decrease apathy by targeting behaviors like motivation, planning, and initiation, with an emphasis on individualized patient goals. The app will measure progress and outcomes for both the patient and care partner.
The grant Dr. Mechanic-Hamilton received is an initiative from the University of Pennsylvania Institute on Aging (IOA) and Alzheimer’s Disease Core Center (ADCC). Together, the IOA and ADCC select abstracts for one-year multidisciplinary pilot grants to support research across a variety of health-related areas.
Dr. Mechanic-Hamilton will be the primary investigator for the project, in collaboration with Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania Lauren Massimo, PhD, CRNP, Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology Katya Rascovsky, PhD, and Programmer in the Department of Neurology Virtual Reality Laboratory Alex Miller, MSE.
Lauren Massimo also recently received a grant from the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration, which will expand the scope and impact of this collaborative project.
Dr. Mechanic-Hamilton is also an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology in the Perelman School of Medicine.