Research Investigators Awarded DoD Grant - Memphis VA Medical Center
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Memphis VA Medical Center


Research Investigators Awarded DoD Grant

Research Investigators Awarded DoD Grant

Traumatic Brain Injury

Friday, December 13, 2019
Memphis, Tennessee –Individuals who have suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) face increased risk of developing dementia. Family caregivers of Veterans with both TBI and dementia face enormous challenges to their own well-being and to their management of behavioral concerns of their loved ones.

The Department of Defense (DoD) has provided a $1,300,000 Research Partnership Award to four investigators from the Memphis Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) to explore an innovative option to help these caregivers. The REACH Hope study will combine two award winning behavioral interventions – REACH VA (Resources for Enhancing All Caregivers Health in the VA) and the DoD’s Virtual Hope Box mobile app – to provide care for caregivers one-on-one in real time and as-needed.

Linda_Nichols        Paul_Perrin
Linda O. Nichols, Ph.D., FGSA, FSfAA   Paul Perrin, Ph.D.
Drs. Linda Nichols, Co-Director of the Caregiver Center at the Memphis Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center and Professor, Preventive Medicine, University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) and Paul Perrin, Associate Professor and Director, Health Psychology Doctoral Program at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), are leading the study. They are collaborating with Drs. Jennifer Martindale-Adams, Co-Director of the VA Caregiver Center and Associate Professor, Preventive Medicine, UTHSC and Ronald Seel, Professor and Executive Director, Center for Rehabilitation Science and Engineering (CERSE) at VCU.

The research study, Supporting Caregivers of Veterans with TBI and Alzheimer’s Dementia/Mixed Dementia: The REACH Hope Behavioral Intervention, is a three-year randomized clinical trial to evaluate a behavioral intervention for caregivers of Veterans with TBI and Alzheimer’s dementia or mixed dementia (AD/MD) to reduce caregiver depression, anxiety and burden, and improve veterans’ health management and safety.

REACH, a four-session behavioral evidence-based VA national intervention for caregivers, uses education and skills building (problem solving, stress management, cognitive reframing) to address caregiver safety, emotional and physical well-being, social support, and managing Veterans’ diagnosis-related concerns. A Program Coach works with each caregiver.

The Virtual Hope Box, a DoD app designed to support behavioral health and to facilitate adaptive coping and emotion regulation for military personnel consists of supportive audio, video, pictures, games, mindfulness exercises, positive messages and activity planning, inspirational quotes, coping statements, and other tools that can be personalized by the user and the clinician. For REACH Hope, as the caregiver and Program Coach work on strategies one-on-one, these will be integrated into the Hope Box for the caregiver to use as needed between and after sessions.

“This team provides the needed expertise to make a difference for caregivers,” said Nichols. Added Perrin, “We are grateful to the DoD for providing us the opportunity to address this critical and growing problem.”


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