Aging and Geriatric

Project Title: Mind in Motion: Multimodal imaging of brain activity to investigate walking and mobility decline in older adults

Faculty Mentor’s Name: Dr. Todd Manini
Phone: 352-273-5914
Email: tmanini@ufl.edu

Research Project Description:

Preserving walking ability with advancing age is central to maintaining a high quality of life, including retention of many activities that are needed to be fully independent in the community. Unfortunately, mobility disability impacts approximately 30% of individuals aged 60-69, 40% of individuals aged 70-79, and 55% of individuals age 80 or older. We aim to investigate the central neural control of mobility in older adults using innovative and cutting-edge methods. Current approaches to study the neural control of walking are limited by either the inability to measure people during walking (functional magnetic resonance imaging, fMRI) or the inability to measure activity below the cortex (functional near-infrared spectroscopy, fNIRS). We assert that a full and accurate understanding of the neural control of walking in older adults requires real time measurement of active regions throughout the brain during actual walking. We will achieve this by using innovative mobile brain imaging with high-density electroencephalography (EEG). This approach relies upon innovative hardware and software to deliver three-dimensional localization of active cortical and subcortical brain regions with high spatial and temporal resolution during walking. The result is unprecedented insight into the neural control of walking. Our overarching objective is to determine the central neural control of mobility in older adults by collecting EEG during walking and correlating these findings with a comprehensive set of diverse mobility outcomes (clinic-based walking, complex walking and community mobility measures).

Entry Date: September 19, 2019

Project Title: Spinal electrical stimulation to enhance walking ability in elderly adults

Faculty Mentor’s Name: Dr. David Clark
Phone: 352-376-1611 x105244
Email: davidclark@ufl.edu

Research Project Description:

The objective of this study is to establish the feasibility, preliminary efficacy, and variance of response for using transcutaneous spinal direct current stimulation (tsDCS) and textured shoe insoles to excite spinal locomotor circuits and enhance practice-related performance and retention on an obstacle walking task. Enhanced practice and retention effects will support future efforts to translate this approach into a longer term rehabilitation intervention.
This work is funded by the US Department of Veterans Affairs Rehabilitation Research and Development Service.
The medical student will assist in data collection, data analysis, and lab meetings.

Entry Date: September 13, 2019

Project Title: Cerebral networks of locomotor learning in older adults

Faculty Mentor’s Name: Dr. David Clark
Phone: 352-376-1611 x105244
Email: davidclark@ufl.edu

Research Project Description:

This study investigates the use of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) delivered to the frontal lobe of the brain to enhance practice-related performance and retention on an obstacle walking task. Changes in walking performance are evaluated using 3-dimensional biomechanical assessment, and changes in brain network activity are assessed using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). This work is funded by the US Department of Veterans Affairs Rehabilitation Research and Development Service. The medical student will assist in data collection, data analysis, and lab meetings.

Entry Date: September 13, 2019

Project Title: Mind in Motion and smart health technology research in older adults

Faculty Mentor’s Name:Dr. Todd Manini
Phone: 3522735914
Email: tmanini@ufl.edu

Research Project Description:

There are two major ongoing projects in which trainees can receive experience. Below are descriptions for each.

Mind in Motion study. Mobility impairments in older adults decrease quality of life and are associated with high societal and economic burden. Current approaches to study the neural control of walking are limited by either the inability to measure people during walking or the inability to measure activity below the cortex. We assert that a full and accurate understanding of the neural control of walking in older adults requires real time measurement of active regions throughout the brain during actual walking. Our overarching objective is to determine the central neural control of mobility in older adults by collecting EEG during walking and correlating these findings with a comprehensive set of diverse mobility outcomes (clinic-based walking, complex walking and community mobility measures). We will determine whether poorer walking performance and steeper trajectories of decline are associated with the Compensation Related Utilization of Neural Circuits Hypothesis (CRUNCH). CRUNCH is a well-supported model of brain activity patterns that are seen when older individuals perform tasks of increasing complexity. CRUNCH helps describe the limited reserve resources available in the older brain. These factors cause older adults to quickly reach a ceiling in brain resources when performing tasks of increasing complexity. Our second aim is to characterize and harmonize different methods of brain activation that include electroencephalography and functional near infrared spectroscopy during actual walking and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during imagined walking. This will allow us to identify the most robust CRUNCH-related hallmarks of brain activity across neuroimaging modalities, which will strengthen our conclusions and allow for widespread application of our findings.

Smart and connected health study. Older Americans experience approximately 29 million falls and 13 million hospitalizations per year. These intervening health events (IHE – episodic falls, injuries, illnesses, and hospitalizations) are strong precipitants of disability in older adults. Because of their episodic nature, IHEs are extremely difficult to study. Continuous, long-term monitoring with remote capabilities using wearable technology is an ideal solution for capturing information surrounding an IHE and in particular, preceding it. This project aims to develop a smart watch application and server platform called ROAMM (Real-time Online Assessment and Mobility Monitor). It will offer long-term and continuous connectivity, bidirectional interactivity and remote programming. ROAMM will create a detailed narrative about mobility (activity patterns, walking speed, life space), patient reported outcomes/symptoms (pain, poor mood, fatigue, disability), cognition (working memory, processing speed, and executive functioning) and reports of health events (falls and hospitalizations). The infrastructure is composed of a diverse group of investigators with expertise in mobile technology/data science and applied/medical sciences who will serve in the following cores: Wearable Technology, Phenotyping, Clinical Outcomes, Data Science Management & Quality, and Recruitment, Retention & Compliance.

Entry Date: December 5, 2019