Falls are a significant problem among elderly individuals and are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries in this age group. (5) Between 28 to 35% of individuals over the age of 65 years old sustain at least one fall over a one-year period, and the occurrence increases to 32- 42% in adults over the age of 75 years. (4) These falls are incredibly dangerous for older individuals and the recovery processes are long and painful. Studies have been done to find ways to minimize the amount of falls that occur each year, and strength training has proven to be an effective way to combat this issue. (5)
The aging process results in a number of functional, neural, muscular, and bone-related deteriorations. (1) At the cellular level, muscles lose both cross-sectional area and fiber numbers, with type II muscle fibers being the most affected. (2) Type II muscle fibers are the “fast twitch” muscles responsible for quick, powerful movements such as sprinting but are quickly fatigued due to the lack of mitochondria found in them. (6) Type II muscle fibers are necessary for providing support and major strength for the body. Aged skeletal muscle produces less force, and the mechanical characteristics of muscle become slower due to the decrease in aerobic enzymes within the body. (2)
Strength training has been correlated with combating weakness and its debilitating consequences. Done regularly (2 to 3 times per week), these exercises build muscle strength, build muscle mass, and preserve bone density. (3) Additionally, strength training can reduce the risk of osteoporosis and the signs and symptoms of numerous chronic diseases such as heart disease, arthritis, and type 2 diabetes, while also improving sleep and reducing depression. (3)
One of the most important types of exercises are core stability exercises, such as crunches and planks. (4) Strong core stability is correlated with improved performance of daily activities. The core is a kinetic link that facilitates the transfer of torques and angular momenta between upper and lower extremities during the execution of whole-body movements as part of daily living. (1) The core is especially important in everyday and sports activities because it provides proximal stability for distal mobility. (1) Enhanced core strength, stability, or a combination of the two may allow older adults to use their upper and lower extremities more effectively by optimizing trunk movements (i.e., the mechanical linkage between upper and lower extremities), and by increasing the effectiveness of corrective movements in precarious situations encountered in daily life. (1) Core strength training has a positive influence on measures of strength, balance, functional performance, and falls in older adults.
Esurgi is currently developing a device, the Biostabilizer, intended to provide feedback to physical therapists and patients to indicate whether patients are engaging their core muscles in a proper manner when performing exercises that increase core stability and strength. The device measures whether the forces generated by the patient’s performing an exercise go outside a safe range, at which point, a buzzer and red green blue (RGB) light emitting diode (LED) instantaneously turn on. These two components work together to alert the patient along with the physical therapist if the exercise was performed correctly.
Helping elderly individuals exercise to improve muscle strength, aerobic capacity, and balance will significantly reduce the rate of falls and improve bone strength. (5) How can the Biostabilizer help you prevent muscle wasting?
- Granacher, U., Gollhofer, A., Hortobágyi, T., Kressig, R. W., & Muehlbauer, T. (2013). The importance of trunk muscle strength for balance, functional performance, and fall prevention in seniors: a systematic review. Sports medicine, 43(7), 627-641.
- Kirkendall, D. T., & Garrett, W. E. (1998). The effects of aging and training on skeletal muscle. The American journal of sports medicine, 26(4), 598-602.
- Seguin, R., & Nelson, M. E. (2003). The benefits of strength training for older adults. American journal of preventive medicine, 25(3), 141-149.
- Granacher, U., Gruber, M., & Gollhofer, A. (2009). Resistance training and neuromuscular performance in seniors. International journal of sports medicine, 30(9), 652-657.
- Grisso, J. A. (1997). Prevention of falls in patients with osteoporosis. Journal of clinical rheumatology: practical reports on rheumatic & musculoskeletal diseases, 3(2 Suppl), 62-64.
- Bottinelli, R. Y. C. R., & Reggiani, C. (2000). Human skeletal muscle fibres: molecular and functional diversity. Progress in biophysics and molecular biology, 73(2-4), 195-262.