Clinical trials for primary prevention and early intervention in preclinical AD require measures of functional capacity with improved sensitivity to deficits in healthier, non-demented individuals. To this end, the Virtual Reality Functional Capacity Assessment Tool (VRFCAT) was developed as a direct performance-based assessment of functional capacity that is sensitive to changes in function across multiple populations. Using a realistic virtual reality environment, the VRFCAT assesses a subject’s ability to complete instrumental activities associated with a shopping trip. The present investigation represents an initial evaluation of the VRFCAT as a potential co-primary measure of functional capacity in healthy aging and preclinical MCI/AD by examining test-retest reliability and associations with cognitive performance in healthy young and older adults. The VRFCAT was compared and contrasted with the UPSA-2-VIM, a traditional performance-based assessment utilizing physical props. Results demonstrated strong age-related differences in performance on each VRFCAT outcome measure, including total completion time, total errors, and total forced progressions. VRFCAT performance showed strong correlations with cognitive performance across both age groups. VRFCAT Total Time demonstrated good test-retest reliability (ICC=.80 in young adults; ICC=.64 in older adults) and insignificant practice effects, indicating the measure is suitable for repeated testing in healthy populations. Taken together, these results provide preliminary support for the VRFCAT as a potential measure of functionally relevant change in primary prevention and preclinical AD/MCI trials.

A.S. Atkins ; I. Stroescu ; N.B. Spagnola ; V.G. Davis ; T.D. Patterson ; M. Narasimhan ; P.D. Harvey ; R.S.E. Keefe (2015): ASSESSMENT OF AGE-RELATED DIFFERENCES IN FUNCTIONAL CAPACITY USING THE VIRTUAL REALITY FUNCTIONAL CAPACITY ASSESSMENT TOOL (VRFCAT). The Journal of Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease (JPAD).