UVA researchers are working in collaborative, interdisciplinary teams to develop innovative approaches to the study of critical issues in gerontology and geriatrics.
Led by Timothy Salthouse, one of the foremost authorities on the ways aging affects memory and other mental processes, faculty in psychology, neurology, and neuroscience are addressing key issues about what leads to age-related cognitive change, whether cognitive changes in early adulthood are related to dementia and other pathologies later in life, and what can be done to prevent these changes. Other researchers in medicine, engineering, nursing, and education are working on cognitive assessment monitoring tools, computer aids for memory loss, exercise and cognition, gait and cognitive functioning.
Life Span Development
UVA researchers are conducting integrated research in the life-span perspective of development, which seeks to convey the dynamic and developmental nature of the aging process. With support of the National Institutes on Aging, John Nesselroade and Steve Boker of Center for Developmental and Health Research Methodology are developing new methodologies for research on life-span development.
Healthy Aging Through Exercise
Coordinated by Professor Art Weltman, who has an international reputation in exercise physiology, hormones, body compositon and aging, this group seeks to investigate the use of exercise programs to promote healthy aging and extend the duration of independent living. Lead investigators include Professor Glenn Gaesser, a well-known exercise physiologist who examines how exercise and diet can combat the risk of various diseases associated with aging. Robert Abbot, a professor biostatistics in the Department of Health Evaluation Sciences, studies the link between exercise and dementia.
Age-related Neurodegenerative Diseases
Collaborative teams from psychology, neurology, neuroscience, biology, psychiatry and nursing are developing disease predictors and interventions that will extend the period of optimum functioning and significantly improve the quality of life. Lead investigators include David Geldmacher, Carol Manning, Timothy Salthouse, George Bloom, and W. Parker Davis.
Gait and Motion Analysis
The UVA Gait and Motion Laboratory includes faculty from the School of Medicine’s Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, the Engineering School Departments of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, the Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the School of Nursing, and the Sports Medicine Program in the Curry School of Education. The lab has discovered an isolated, functionally limiting impairment in elderly persons, impaired hip hyperextension range, that may be reversible with specific exercise. It is currently exploring the use of the smart gait training system as a regular exercise tool to maintain and improve walking in healthy elderly persons, with the goal to improve overall function as well as reduce the risk for falls.
Aging and Assistive Technologies
Faculty in medicine, engineering, psychology and architecture are investigating and developing new technologies in monitoring systems, computer-assisted memory aids, housing, and robotics to enhance the quality of life and care for seniors. Major projects include the Smart In-Home Monitoring System, the Gait Monitoring Device, the MARC Robotic Walker, and the EcoMOD Program
Elder Law and Policy
Under the leadership of Richard Bonnie, a leading authority in mental health law and policy, faculty in law, psychiatry, psychology, and politics are investigating critical issues including voting rights for individuals with cognitive impairments, mental competency, elder abuse, and advanced planning and surrogate decision making.