Scientists Ask Members of Lakewood Ranch Community to Participate in Brain Health Pilot Study

Todays News

BY BRITTANY MATTIE SRQ DAILY WEDNESDAY PHILANTHROPY EDITION WEDNESDAY MAY 13, 2020

Coming this spring, the Brain Health Initiative (BHI) will kick off phase two its pilot study. The BHI’s ‘Longitudinal Study’ will be looking to select adult residents of Lakewood Ranch at random—examining their minds and the ways they function mentally, socially, cognitively, and overall. Factors in resident’s lives that present risk or promote resilience in brain health and performance will also be taken into account. 

Epidemiologist and Research Director of the BHI, Dr. Erin Dunn, shares that the randomly selected individuals of the community will be asked to participate in a confidential questionnaire online about their health, lifestyle and well-being. The web-based survey includes questions about health habits, medical conditions, social relationships, recreational activities, and experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sharing information about demographics and health behaviors such as exercise, nutrition, smoking, alcohol usage and sleep patterns will be inclusive in the study as well. Lastly, participants will be asked to complete a series of computer games to examine their cognitive thinking and performance

Neuropsychologist, founder and Executive Director of the BHI, Dr. Stephanie Peabody, encourages residents who receive a recruitment letter to “stand up for their own brain health.” By participating in the study, they will be helping to inform the science that is essential to promote brain health, fight brain illness and optimize performance.

“Community participation is a critical component of the BHI,” says Dr. Peabody. “The pilot study will help us capture risk and protective factors linked to brain health across multiple domains, including biological, psychological, behavioral, cognitive, and social factors. We will be incorporating key ‘lessons learned’ from other successful community-based, population health projects, including the Framingham Heart Study, and Shape Up Somerville to identify ways to protect our brain health across the lifespan at the individual and community level.” 

The survey data collected during this pilot study will serve as the basis for the next planned phase. According to Dr. Peabody, phase three will focus on a long-term study of brain health across the entire Florida Suncoast region. A larger portion of the region’s residents, as well as visitors (young and older), will have the opportunity to participate in clinical trials at the Brain Health Innovation Lab. 

“Understanding what causes brain health problems and how best to prevent brain disease remains one of the biggest medical mysteries of our time,” says Dr. Dunn. “Especially nowwhen discoveries related to the brain are critically needed worldwide–I hope every community member who is contacted will step-up to help our team of scientists, and our region, by participating in this study.”

Learn more about the Brain Health Initiative here.

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