Days of Campaign Remain for JHU Researcher Managing Dementia, Alzheimer's
A Johns Hopkins researcher with little time left is asking the public to fund innovative dementia research that would help older adults who struggle to communicate do just that.
Dr. Maranda Trahan, Ph.D., a board certified behavioral analyst, believes that if we give these individuals a new way to communicate, people with dementia may stay more engaged, less isolated, and may decrease other challenging behaviors.
With the help of student researchers from University of Maryland-Baltimore County and Towson University, Dr. Trahan has found promising success in teaching these individuals to use picture cards to communicate basic wants and needs.
These are people who had given up on communicating due to embarrassment, lack of resources, or both.
An implication is that the 5 million Americans currently diagnosed with forms of dementia such as Alzheimer's disease could receive better, cost-effective treatment amid a burgeoning crisis in the United States health care system and economy.
That number is expected to rise to 16 million by 2050, as the baby boomer generation continues to age.
“The economy is affecting research dollars too, and it’s harder to get grant funding for innovative research ideas, especially when you don’t have a lot of data behind it,” Trahan said. “My spring research (funded by the RocketHub campaign) would give me better preliminary data to get bigger grants in the future.”
“Students need research experience to apply for a job or graduate school,” she added. “This is the first stop for undergrads who want to meet that requirement.”
Trahan’s method has yet to be tested in individuals with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Her communication training for older adults with dementia is derived from the Picture Exchange Communication Program which has been applied successfully to individuals with neuro-biological disorders and intellectual disabilities.
On Dec. 7, Trahan launched the Rockethub crowdfunding campaign for $4,000 called "Give Them A Voice" to fund more researchers to speed up her study.
Dr. Trahan is in her third and final year as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Johns Hopkins University.
Dr. Trahan's research is being conducted at the Program for the All-Inclusive Care of the Elderly (PACE) facility on the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, straddling Baltimore City and Dundalk, MD.
PACE was lauded in The New York Times in 2012 for providing managed care as an alternative to nursing homes. Her participants are older adults living in the greater Baltimore area.
With four days left, Trahan has raised $2,300. Please help spread the word!
The Rockethub campaign
Rockethub is a crowdfunding website akin to Kickstarter and indiegogo, as it's geared toward researchers and scientists across various academic disciplines.
It has been named by CNN, the BBC, The Economist, Rolling Stone, SXSW and others as a great new way for helping good ideas thrive. Of note, it collects a smaller commission and allows researchers to keep funds raised even if they do not reach their goal.
Dr. Trahan's campaign is highlighted by a video that features music from the Cris Jacobs Band, formerly of The Bridge of Baltimore fame for the past decade.
Dr. Maranda Trahan is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
Her primary research interests involve the examination of behavioral interventions to manage dementia-associated deficits in communication and engagement, and her clinical interests include the assessment and treatment of behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia, for example vocal disruptions, wandering and noncompliance.
Dr. Trahan received her doctorate in Rehabilitation in 2010 from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois, She was born in Houma, Louisiana, and is a die-hard LSU Tigers and New Orleans Saints fan, and a recent Ravens fan.
Maranda is passionate about expanding the field of behavioral gerontology and introducing Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) as a new provider in dementia care.
Contact: Dr. Maranda Trahan at email@example.com