#PTonICE Daily Show – Wednesday, December 6th, 2023 – Leave nothing on the table with sarcopenia

In today’s episode of the PT on ICE Daily Show, Modern Management of the Older Adult division leader Dustin Jones discusses the scary stats of sarcopenia: increased risk of falls, fractures, loss of independence and the list goes on and on. Dustin emphasizes that rehab providers have HUGE opportunity in this department but often leave so much on the table.

Listen in as Dustin shares some new research about Sarcopenia and it’s implications for our work.

Take a listen to learn how to better serve this population of patients & athletes.

If you’re looking to learn more about live courses designed to better serve older adults in physical therapy or our online physical therapy courses, check our entire list of continuing education courses for physical therapy including our physical therapy certifications by checking out our website. Don’t forget about all of our FREE eBooks, prebuilt workshops, free CEUs, and other physical therapy continuing education on our Resources tab.


Hey everyone, this is Alan. Chief Operating Officer here at ICE. Before we get started with today’s episode, I want to talk to you about VersaLifts. Today’s episode is brought to you by VersaLifts. Best known for their heel lift shoe inserts, VersaLifts has been a leading innovator in bringing simple but highly effective rehab tools to the market. If you have clients with stiff ankles, Achilles tendinopathy, or basic skeletal structure limitations keeping them from squatting with proper form and good depth, a little heel lift can make a huge difference. VersaLifts heel lifts are available in three different sizes and all of them add an additional half inch of h drop to any training shoe, helping athletes squat deeper with better form. Visit www.vlifts.com/icephysio or click the link in today’s show notes to get your VersaLifts today.

Alright Instagram, good morning, good morning YouTube. This is the PT on Ice daily show brought to you by the Institute of Clinical Excellence. My name is Dustin Jones, one of the lead faculty within the older adult division and today we are going to be talking about leaving nothing on the table when it comes to sarcopenia. Leaving nothing on the table when it comes to sarcopenia. We’re going to be covering some new literature that looked at the variations of intensity of different exercises with and its impact on sarcopenia and what that means for us as clinicians or fitness providers. Before we get into the goods, I do want to mention CERT-MMOA is rocking. CERT-MMOA is for those that complete our three MMOA courses, our online level one and level two. then our live courses. We have shut things down for the rest of this year but I want to let you know as soon as 2024 kicks off in January we are hitting the road hard. Both of our online courses are gonna be starting that second week of January and then we’ve got a few courses I want to mention that are gonna be absolutely awesome in that month of January. We got Santa Rosa, California January 13th, 14th. On the 20th, 21st we’re gonna be in Greenville, South Carolina the 27th and the 28th we are going to be in Missouri. So we’d love to see y’all on the road.

So let’s talk about this, sarcopenia. So sarcopenia, for those that are not familiar, is age-related loss of muscle mass and strength. Sometimes now you are going to see the word function or physical function be thrown into that definition, but by and large, most of the time when you see this, it is age-related loss of muscle mass and strength. This is very important for every single person listening to this podcast because the vast majority of y’all are treating older adults in some way shape or form. But what we’re seeing is that the term sarcopenia is starting to apply to individuals that may not have that older adult tag on them. Maybe those folks that are south of 65, maybe those folks that are in their 50s, sometimes even their 40s that are gonna qualify based on the criteria of sarcopenia. So this is a big issue and it impacts a large, broad audience. Just some stats, just so you are aware of how this could impact the folks that you’re serving. 10 to 40% that’s a wide range, but estimates are saying that 10 to 40% of community dwelling older adults have sarcopenia. All right. So 10 to 40% of folks, independent older adults that are walking amongst this, out in the community walking into your outpatient clinic would be categorized as having sarcopenia. And we would argue that that number is largely artificially low, that there may be even more. If you are a clinician that is working in a more acute setting out of the community, right, like acute care, home health, skilled nursing facility, this number goes up exponentially. So for you all, the vast majority of individuals, particularly older adults, would fall into that category of having sarcopenia based on the diagnostic criteria. So all to say, a lot of folks across the whole healthcare spectrum would fall under this category.

Now why is this a big deal? This is a big deal because if you have that label sarcopenia, you are at 60% increased risk of falling, If you fall, you’re at an 84% increased risk of having an injurious fall or with a fracture. Those are big statistics, and we know the negative implications of those health outcomes. It is a big deal. It is an absolutely big deal, and it’s important for us to understand how big of a deal this is, but then also to know what to do with it, all right? And this is where this new research, this new literature that was just published comes into play. There’s a recent systematic review and a network meta-analysis that was published in the European Review of Aging and Physical Activity that looked at randomized controlled trials that use exercise in different intensities of exercise and how that impacted different outcome measures with folks that have sarcopenia. So they found that there were about 50 randomized controlled trials that totaled of about 4,000 participants. And all of these studies looked at the following outcomes. They looked at muscle mass, which we’re usually measuring with something like a DEXA scan, right? Muscle strength tested by hand grip strength, chest press, and then a leg press on a machine. And then physical function, functional outcome measures, five times sit to stand, 30 seconds sit to stand, timed up and go, short physical performance battery, which is, you’ll commonly hear us refer to it as the SPPB, the six minute walk test, and gait speed. All right, so these studies were measuring a lot of things that have huge implications for a lot of physical therapy and even fitness outcomes. All right, so all these studies were looking at those things. and they performed exercise at different intensities. So they performed exercise potentially at light intensity. This is categorized as at zero to four out of 10 on that modified Borg score where we’re looking at relative intensity or RPE, rating of perceived exertion. that could also equate to under 49% of someone’s one rep max. So typically what you saw in this meta-analysis is that the randomized control trials that were using that light intensity, they were often using aerobic-based training. So we’re going to throw that in, kind of that light intensity category. Then we had moderate intensity. So this was that five to six out of 10 on that RPE. kind of 50 to 69% of a one rep max was considered to be moderate, and then vigorous, six to eight out of 10, and kind of that 60 to 80% of that one rep max. All right, keep in mind the updated ACSM recommended guidelines are calling, particularly for sarcopenia, are calling for 60 to 80% of someone’s 1RM. They’re calling for vigorous exercise, in particular resistance training for these individuals, all right? So they had those different intensities and they saw, all right, what’s going to happen here with these folks that have sarcopenia? And the interesting thing to think about this is there’s a lot of individuals, particularly when someone has sarcopenia on board, that the main focus is that, hey, this person may be relatively sedentary. They have low physical activity levels. Let’s just get this person moving, right? Let’s get them started in some type of physical activity. Let’s bump up their overall physical activity. That’s going to be a huge win. I would agree with that. Anytime that we move someone from being relatively sedentary or low physical activity levels and we can bump that up, we are going to see some positive benefits. We cannot deny that there’s good in getting people to move more.

But what we need to acknowledge, especially after these results, is we cannot stop there. That is the first part of the journey to pushing people to more activity, but more intense activity. So what they found with this meta-analysis is the individuals that only received that light intensity, the only improvements that they saw across all those different outcome measures that I mentioned before was they did see some improvements in their hand grip strength. Awesome, that’s great. That’s a great correlation to lots of health outcomes, right? It’s not a bad thing to have an improvement in hand grip strength. Great, that’s awesome. There’s a point for light intensity exercise. Now, moderate intensity exercise saw improvements in hand grip strength and important outcome measures like a 30 second sit to stand, a timed up and go, and leg press. Awesome. That’s a few points for moderate intensity. We should probably be giving more preference to that than light intensity. And then the vigorous intensity crew saw improvements in all of those things previously mentioned that the light and moderate intensity experience, but they also saw improvement in muscle mass. They saw improvement in gait speed along with 30 seconds at the stand, five times at the stand, timed up and go, hand grip strength, leg press, chest press as well. They saw significant improvements across that broad spectrum of outcome measures that I talked about before. They get 10 points for those types of benefits, right? So if we’re to rank them, the vigorous benefited tremendously much more than the moderate and the moderate benefited more than the light. So what this is basically telling us is that these folks that had that sarcopenia tag, which is based on, you know, a DEXA scan, but then also, you know, SPPB under 8 out of 12 or hand grip strength under 26 kilograms for males and under 16 for females. That’s what we would typically look at, right?

Folks that have that diagnosis that we need to be giving them vigorous intensity activities, particularly resistance training. If we do not give them vigorous exercise, we are leaving a lot on the table. Yeah, they’re going to get better. They’re going to improve on some of these outcome measures, but we leave so much potential benefit on the table that we’re ultimately doing a person a disservice. So based on this research, I wanna focus on three main takeaways that we should walk away with after coming across some literature like this, all right? The first one, particularly for the ICE crew, you have such a unique opportunity that you spend so much time with these individuals, comparatively more time than any other healthcare provider, that you need to be well-equipped to screen and identify when sarcopenia is on board. We cover this extensively in MMOA level one and in our MMOA live course, but you need to be able to run an SPPB. You need to be able to run a hand grip strength. You need to be able to interpret those results and let that influence your course of care, particularly for the outpatient clinicians, because why do people come to you, right? What is a primary driver for your services? People are typically coming to you for pain, which you need to focus on, but that may not be the biggest issue. All right. So one we’re screening, we’re identifying number two, we are leveraging intentional under dosage. You’ve heard us talk about this podcast before. We’ve done whole episodes on this. So I’d encourage you to search that if you had, if this is a new term for you, but we need to leverage intentional under dosage because that is typically we’re lowering the barrier of entry for individuals. So they’re going to partake in particularly a new activity, right? For so many of these folks, they have not exercised before, they’ve not performed any intensity of resistance training. This is completely new territory for these individuals that we need to make it approachable. And so we may typically underdose initially.

But in light of this evidence, that intentional underdosage period needs to be as short as possible. We don’t have a lot of time here with these individuals and we need to make the most of our time. The quicker we can get to that vigorous intensity level so we get all those benefits that this meta-analysis discusses, the better, right? So that intentional under-dosage period needs to be as short as possible. That’s a very vague thing, right? For some individuals, you may have their first visit where it may be intentionally under-dosed for their capacity. and then the next visit based on their response, their trust in you, their willingness to perform maybe a more challenging activity, that intentional under dosage period may be the span of one visit, right? But I know for me, particularly in home health, I’ve had intentional under dosage periods that have been well into the months. based on the person that I’m working with. Whatever it is, make it as short as possible. So we screen and identify, we leverage that intention on your dosage. And then number three, and I think this is something that we really need to grasp, is the clinical urgency in this situation. that if you continue with your light, with your moderate intensity exercise with these individuals, you’re leaving a lot on the table. And ultimately, you are harming that person. You are robbing them from the potential benefits that we’ve seen in this meta-analysis, that they see the big improvements in the functional outcome measures, in their strength, in their muscle mass. These people have the capability to get those kinds of results. And if we waste our time and spend too much time in that intentional underdosage period where we’re doing that sedentary, doing light to even moderate intensity activities, you are doing that person a disservice. You are doing that person a disservice. It is a dangerous situation that you’re playing with. We need to have a sense of urgency when we’re talking about sarcopenia. All right. I’m going to drop the link to this meta-analysis at Open Access. Really good read. It gives you a good idea of kind of the big body of literature around sarcopenia, but what they found in terms of these outcome measures. I’ll drop that in the comments. If you have a tough time getting that link, just shoot me, DustinJones.dpt or the ICE account a direct message and we’ll get that over to you. But this is a big conversation for many of you. You all are seeing tons of folks that would have that sarcopenia label put on them if they were properly screened and identified and you have a huge opportunity to give them that vigorous intensity, that amazing dose that is going to give them huge benefits across such a broad spectrum of outcome measures that have a huge implication for their quality of life. Alright, y’all have a lovely rest of your Wednesday. Go crush it. I’ll talk to y’all soon.

Hey, thanks for tuning in to the PT on Ice daily show. If you enjoyed this content, head on over to iTunes and leave us a review, and be sure to check us out on Facebook and Instagram at the Institute of Clinical Excellence. If you’re interested in getting plugged into more ice content on a weekly basis while earning CUs from home, check out our virtual ice online mentorship program at ptonice.com. While you’re there, sign up for our Hump Day Hustling newsletter for a free email every Wednesday morning with our top five research articles and social media posts that we think are worth reading. Head over to ptonice.com and scroll to the bottom of the page to sign up.