|Jakub Mesinovic and Cat Shore-Lorenti,|
Bone and Muscle Research Group
Most people recognise that ageing is associated with deterioration in muscle mass, strength and physical performance. However, severe declines in muscle mass and function in older adults are known as ‘sarcopenia’.
A relatively new condition, sarcopenia only received a disease classification code from the World Health Organisation in 2016. The condition may affect up to one in three people aged 60 years and older and can lead to loss of mobility and independence, falls and a reduced quality of life. It has also been associated with mortality, fractures and hospitalisation.
The Australian and New Zealand Society for Sarcopenia and Frailty Research introduced ‘Australia Sarcopenia Day’ on July 4, 2018 to raise awareness of the condition. To celebrate and support the day, Monash University’s Bone and Muscle Research Group (BMRG) held a hand grip strength competition for the public at the entrance of Monash Medical Centre.
BMRG Senior Research Fellow Dr David Scott said many hospital visitors participated in the competition and spoke with the researchers who provided information on sarcopenia.
“Several of our older participants mentioned that they have difficulty completing everyday tasks which require good hand grip strength, such as opening jars or carrying pots and pans, but none were familiar with the term ‘sarcopenia’,” Dr Scott said.
Dr David Scott emphasised the importance of events such as this in raising awareness of sarcopenia locally—not only with the public, but also with clinicians.
“It would be great to see more regular diagnosis of sarcopenia in older patients because we know it can be effectively treated with appropriate exercise and nutrition,” he said.
“There is also growing attention from pharmaceutical companies who are developing drugs to combat age-related muscle wasting.”
The BMRG leads high quality research studies and clinical trials on sarcopenia that contribute to public health policy and pharmaceutical development.