The Relationship Between Thigh Muscle Volume and Functional Performance in Older Women

by Lillian Pao (’18)

sarcopenia1.jpg

Fig. 1: Thigh muscle volume may be associated with functional performance in older women.

Sarcopenia, a stage in a person’s life during which they begin to lose muscle mass and function, commonly affects men and women above the age of 60. Muscles are often associated with strength, function, and power. However, the association amongst all of these characteristics is understudied.  Dr. Ulrich Lindemann of Germany decided to investigate the association between thigh muscle volume and functional performance in older women in order to better understand sarcopenia.

In Lindemann’s study, 68 healthy older women, with an average age of 77.6, were studied to assess muscle volume, strength, and function. The muscle volumes of both thighs were evaluated under a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine. The image showed the noise, lean tissue, and adipose tissue of the thigh. Muscle strength in the quadriceps was researched by using a hand-held dynamometer and measuring the lever distance and the maximum force momentum from a single leg. Furthermore, leg muscle power and function were measured using the Nottingham Power Rig and STS performance tests. These tests calculated the performance power from the hips’ maximum velocity and body weight. From their results, Lindemann and his team determined that there was a moderate association between thigh muscle volume and muscle power. Future tests should be done to further support his claim by testing frailer older women and including men in the study. Furthermore, medical imaging should be done with sarcopenia patients, if lower extremity function, muscle strength, and power are to be used for its diagnosis.

 

References:

  1. Lindemann, et al., Association between thigh muscle volume and leg muscle in older women. Plos One (2016), doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0157885
  2. Image acquired from http://www.mobility-aids.com/sarcopenia-and-aging.html
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