Sarcopenia

Physical therapist working with elderly woman

What is Sarcopenia?

Maintaining muscle mass is critical in an aging adult. Sarcopenia, the reduction of muscle mass and strength that occurs with aging, is considered one of the major causes of disability in older adults. It has been linked to physical frailty, falls, functional decline and impaired mobility in elderly people. Many factors – including chronic illness, sedentary lifestyle, nutritional deficiencies and aging itself – may contribute to muscle weakness and loss of skeletal-muscle mass in people of advanced age. Currently, only skeletal-muscle disuse and undernutrition may be prevented or reversed with targeted interventions.

Progressive loss of muscle mass and strength as part of aging is well documented. We see a loss of 3 to 5 percent of muscle mass per decade and a parallel loss of strength in those who are physically inactive after the age of 30 (Nair 1995).

How can physical therapy help treat Sarcopenia?

Physical therapy can benefit these patients by helping to rebuild muscle strength and mass. Studies show progressive weight training is the most effective treatment we can provide, but activity alone will not maintain muscle or bone mass.

At PTS, our therapists are trained to understand the basics of aging muscle. When designing a program, the therapist will consider basic physics related to strength training. This includes identifying the ratio of weight to repetitions as it applies to strength and power development, utilizing the difference between various forms of resistance and identifying specific age-related conditions.

You or a family member may benefit from an evaluation by a Licensed Physical Therapist to determine areas of specific weakness, with special precautions if you have other conditions such as arthritis, balance loss and comorbidities. After an initial evaluation, our professionally trained staff will educate you about a custom resistance exercise program designed to strengthen and improve your function and build endurance while decreasing your risk of falls.

Contact us to see how we can help YOU today! Although no physician referral is needed to see a physical therapist, some insurance companies may require a referral for coverage.

REFERENCES

  1. Fiatrone, Maria A., MD., et al. The New England Journal of Medicine. Massachusetts Medical Society. 1994;1769-75.
  2. Vella, Chantal, MS., Kravitz, Len, PhD. Sarcopenia: The Mystery of Muscle Loss.
  3. Lauretani, F, et al. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed.