Content » Vol 52, Issue 4

Special report

A "Neuromuscular Look" to sarcopenia: Is it a movement disorder?

Murat Kara, Levent Özçakar, Bayram Kaymak, Ayşe Merve Ata, Walter Frontera
Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine, Hacettepe University Medical School, Ankara, Turkey.
DOI: 10.2340/16501977-2672

Abstract

Objective: Impairment of physical function is the main determinant of morbidity/mortality in sarcopenia and frailty. Physical function tests are performed by the movement around the joints, and skeletal muscles are the main generators of the forces required to perform these functional tasks. However, the central nervous system, which initiates and coordinates muscle movements, controls the magnitude and temporal parameters of muscle forces.
Methods: Non-systematic literature review was performed about the effects of aging on neuromotor control.
Result: The ability of a muscle to produce force by aging is deteriorated not only by muscle structural changes, but also by neuromotor control dysfunction. With aging, changes in muscle structure and loss of volumes in brain structures related with movement and cognition have been shown. Age-related cognitive impairment can have considerable negative effects on the force generating capacity of skeletal muscles. In this sense, the relationship has been found between handgrip strength, gait speed, and cognition.
Conclusion: Treatments targeting muscle mass only would be insufficient unless we address the impairment of neurocognitive functions. It is essential that prescribing life-long exercise is important for healthy aging including the preservation of muscle mass/strength, physical and cognitive functioning, and independent living.

Lay Abstract

Decline of physical function is the main cause of morbidity and mortality in sarcopenia and frailty. Physical function tests are performed to show the daily functional tasks. The central nervous system initiates, coordinates and controls muscle movements. Thus, the ability of a muscle to produce force by aging is determined not only by skeletal muscle, but also by neuromotor control systems. Therefore, treatments should contain targeting muscle mass and also neurocognitive functions. In this regard, an example of a rehabilitation program that influences both muscle and brain function is exercise. Accordingly, it is essential that prescribing life-long exercise is important for healthy and independent aging including the preservation of muscle, physical and cognitive functions.

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