In today’s episode of the PT on ICE Daily Show, Modern Management of the Older Adult division leader Dustin Jones discusses the difference between sarcopenia (the loss of muscle mass) and potentiapenia (the loss of muscular power). Dustin reminds listeners that performing functional outcome measures & then creating a treatment plan based on functional deficits uncovered during assessment is the most important thing in ensuring patients receive the individualized care they need: “Assess, don’t assume.” Dustin also discusses the utility of using functional outcomes to assess & track progress so that insurers like Medicare will continue to pay for treatment.
Take a listen to learn how to better serve this population of patients & athletes.
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00:00 – DUSTIN JONES
All right, welcome y’all. 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 as we call MMOA. We’re going to talk today about a really interesting topic. We’re going to name the enemy and that is potentiopenia. We’re going to name the enemy particularly when we’re working with older adults and that is potentiopenia. This is brought to you by a listener question, a commentary that they wrote and I want to dive into the topic of power, strength, Sarcopenia as well. What should we really be focusing on? How can we screen? Before we get into the goods, I want to mention about some upcoming MMOA live courses. MMOA live is a part of the cert MMOA curriculum. Part of that curriculum is a live course. Also our MMOA level one online course, which was formerly called MMOA essential foundations. And then MMOA Level 2, which was formerly called Advanced Concepts. You complete all three, you get your cert MMOA. We have three upcoming weekends where you can go to that live course. We’re gonna have Annapolis, Maryland and Central South Carolina. This upcoming weekend, November 11th, we’re gonna be in Wappinger’s Falls, New York. And then right before Thanksgiving, November 18th, that weekend, we’re gonna be in Westmont, Illinois. So if you are looking to get some Con Ed before the end of the year, be sure to check us out. PTOnIce.com is where you can find all that.
All right, so naming the enemy, potentiopenia. So this is a term you probably have never heard about because it’s not been coined, it’s not been researched, it’s not been agreed upon in literature. This is a word that was made up by Dr. Ronald Michalak. So Dr. Michalak is an orthopedic surgeon that’s been practicing for roughly 20 plus years that has quitting his surgical practice to go back and pursue his PhD in Rehabilitation Science. Dr. Michalak is an avid listener to the PT on ICE Daily Show, so I want to take the time to shout out to him, but also for all of y’all that listen to this show that aren’t our typical physical therapy crowd, right? The OTs, the speech-language pathologists, the other healthcare providers. I know we have some PAs, some NPs in here, but we’re really grateful for y’all tuning in because we’re starting to see we have a fitness-forward army clinicians that are trying to solve the same problems. This is one example. So Dr. Mitchell like you know 20 plus years doing orthopedic surgery you start to see some patterns right? You start to see the issues with focusing on the tissue, right? Of focusing on, oh, that bone-on-bone, we should probably just go ahead and replace that whole joint, and that will solve all your problems, right? There’s some issues to that, that when we focus so much on the anatomy, the structure, that we apply surgical interventions to non-surgical problems, that creates issues, right? And so over his career, he started to see, man, the biggest issue is not the quote-unquote bone-on-bone, it’s the fact that these folks are deconditioned, they’re weak, they’re not able to do the things that they want to do and it leaves them susceptible to some of these medical situations that I’m often performing surgery on. What can I do to prevent them from even having surgery? And so we started to dig into the research and science and what he has come to the conclusion of is we are really missing the boat to where we’re focusing on the wrong things and what we need to focus on particularly with this population is their lack of power. hence the term potentiopenia, the lack of muscular power. So, I want to give some context for this discussion because I think it’s really interesting of how much progress has been made in this area, particularly in geriatrics and geriatric rehabilitation.
So, sarcopenia, you’ve heard us talk about this so many times on the PT on ICE Daily Show. If you’ve taken any of the MMOA courses, you’ve heard this term. Sarcopenia was first coined in 1989 by Dr. Rosenberg, and at the time, the definition, the accepted definition of sarcopenia was age-related loss of muscle mass. That we thought, oh man, these folks are losing muscle mass, therefore, they are losing their strength, they are losing their ability to do what they need to do. This is a big issue. It’s age-related, but we may be able to do something about it. As this was studied more and more, and just this whole concept, was being critically you know thought about that the term of sarcopenia or the definition of sarcopenia was missing a little bit right because you can have someone that is losing muscle mass but may still be really strong or you may have someone that does have a good bit of muscle mass that is rather weak or they’re not able to produce their force quickly aka they have low power So, in 2008, Dr. Clark really started to push against this definition of sarcopenia and say, hey, this isn’t the issue. The issue is the lack of strength, the age-related loss of muscular strength. And he coined the term dynopenia. That was a back and forth, back and forth. And now in terms of the term of sarcopenia, what we’re seeing is that it’s starting to incorporate some of the things that Dr. Clark really was pushing for. And now you’re often going to see sarcopenia defined as the age-related loss of muscle mass and strength. That’s what we speak to in the MMA course. And so a lot of the screens that you’re seeing of being able to identify folks that have sarcopenia are mass related screens of actually measuring muscle mass and having cutoffs based on certain age groups and so on and so forth. But then there’s also functional measures, right? Gait speed is one, grip strength is another one, the SPPB, the short physical performance battery test can indicate that someone is at risk of sarcopenia. Sarcopenia has changed a ton over the past few decades. Now, what’s interesting is that the amount of research, which is so massive in this particular topic, that we have really good evidence to show, man, if this person scores below one meter per second, for example, on the gait speed, that this individual is at risk of sarcopenia, also a host of negative health outcomes. It’s very predictive. We have a lot of data to show that poor performance on some of these outcome measures is a big issue and very predictive and warrants medical treatment or physical therapy, if you will, or occupational therapy, some of these rehabilitation-based services. Now, here’s the issue. Here’s what I think Dr. Michalak is going towards, is a lot of these screens that have been used to say, hey, this person has sarcopenia, age-related muscle mass and strength, that these screens may not actually be measuring what we think, right? If you think about gait speed, normal gait speed, for example, is that a measure of strength? Not really, right? Is it a measure of, let’s say, power, the ability to produce that strength quickly? Potentially, right? Definitely, if it’s a fast gait speed, or if we’re looking at gait speed reserve, the difference between max gait speed and normal gait speed. Think about the 30 second sit to stand test, where we’re standing up and sitting down 30 times. Is that a measure of strength? You can make a strong argument that, no, not necessarily, but it’s more of a measure of how people can use that strength quickly to perform that transfer. Same thing could be said for the five times sit to stand. And so these outcome measures that are often tied to quote-unquote sarcopenia, the age-related loss of muscle mass and strength, isn’t really measuring that. We can say that those tests are very predictive of some of these negative health outcomes. That’s not what we’re talking about. What we’re talking about is do these tests actually measure, indicate what they’re saying that they measure, right? Now, here’s the, I think the important part about this is that if I am performing a five-time sit-to-stand test or a 30-second sit-to-stand test and think that, oh, this indicates that this person has impaired lower extremity strength and I focus on strength-based interventions, right, I’m just worried about getting them stronger, not necessarily trying to help them get stronger, produce force quicker, aka power.
THE NEGLECT OF POWER-BASED TRAINING
And so what Dr. Michalak is really proposing is that our focus on age-related loss of muscle mass and strength, the focus on strength has resulted in the neglect of power-based training. We need to really think differently about these terms and ultimately what they result in. I think we should have a new term, potentiapenia. That was his argument. This is all in a beautiful commentary that I loved reading that I’m going to link in the notes. So here’s our take on this. I agree that… we have really dropped the ball on power-based training, right? That we often neglect that in this population for many reasons. One is just we haven’t named the enemy as one. Two is that we often have ageist assumptions about what people can handle, right? That, oh, that’s too intense for them or they will get hurt. It’s not as well studied as strength-based training. There’s a lot of reasons that go into that, but I do agree that we have really dropped the ball there. A new term, creating a new term, and everything that’s associated with that, I don’t know if that’s the answer, but I do think we need to continue to be critical of the term sarcopenia and what that actually represents. It’s already changed to age-related loss of muscle mass and strength, which is lovely, and I would love to see that conversation continue to include power as well. Clinically, here’s what I think is really important for us when we think about some of these deficits that folks are undergoing and we’re throwing around some of these terms.
STRENGTH VS. POWER TRAINING
I think the big thing that needs to be focused is we’re diving into the weeds of strength versus power and you know reps and sets and volume and all that type of stuff that when first one is when we’re working with individuals that are relatively sedentary or inactive and Movement is king. I don’t care what they do. The fact that they are moving is ultimately important, right? We got to get people moving first and we need to be less picky of what that looks like, especially with sedentary and active individuals. That’s the first thing. The second thing is we need to really think about our assessments and challenge our assumptions with this. This is why in our courses we always say assessments over assumptions. It’s very easy for us as clinicians, when you’re doing an assessment, you’re doing the five-time sit-to-stand test, 30-second sit-to-stand test, to assume, oh, this person needs to do more lower extremity-based strength training, right? That’s a very common thing for us to correlate. Now, that test may not be and probably isn’t testing pure strength, right? There’s other ways to do that. One rep max testing, estimated one rep max testing. We can use dynamometry as well. There’s other methods to test strength. These functional and very practical outcome measures may be more a testament to someone’s power ability. So when we use these tests, particularly the 30 seconds sit to stand, five times sit to stand, I think is a great example. that we need to be thinking probably about strength training, but we also need to be thinking about power training. Can they produce that force quickly? Because it ultimately is an indicator of power, the ability to produce that force quickly and do that transfer. So what your outcome measures tell you, we need to be very careful of how that informs the intervention, right? And ultimately what we’re often going to find, I think this is not an or conversation, strength training or power training, in the realm of ice, you will hear this so often, it is and not or, right? Probably both, strength and power, we can do both. In reality, when we do get people stronger, you often see, especially in folks that are untrained, you are gonna see an improvement in power production. You could do specific power training, where you’re doing force movements quickly, you’re probably using lighter loads, and you’re probably gonna see an improvement in strength, right? That’s gonna happen with a lot of untrained individuals. But I think in the context of rehab, in the context especially of One Rep Max Living, that we probably want to do both. Heavy loads are really good. Heavy loads provide an amazing stimulus to promote muscle mass, our strength, but also the strength of our bones, also our soft tissue remodeling. It makes us more resilient individuals. But fast loads are really good too, right? They give us that type 2 muscle fiber stimulation to prevent some of that preferential decline. in those fibers. That quick speed is so practical for so many things that we do in the real world and also in high-risk situations. It’s an and conversation. We want to do both. Now, Dr. Mitchell, I had two specific questions that I also wanted to hit on. Could referrals be written or phrased better from the physician end to encourage PTs to try to help get these individuals moving toward fitness? Now, I want everyone to listen here, and by and large, the PT on ICE Daily shows largely physical therapists, physical therapy assistants. Think about what this physician just asked. This physician is basically saying, where are my fitness forward clinicians, right? Where are my fitness forward clinicians? Where are the people that I can trust with my patients? I love this question. I think from our angle, from kind of the rehab fitness side of things, Let it be known. What are you about? Lock arms, lock shields with us, the ICE tribe, the ones that are really pushing this fitness forward message because there are healthcare providers looking for you. Now, Dr. Mitchell, from the physician’s standpoint, I do think it is helpful to make it clear as a physician that you have that fitness forward approach. And oftentimes, we don’t see that on referrals, right? It’s the diagnosis and treat, which you love as a PT, to be honest, but if you do run a 30 second sit to stand and acknowledge that it is under or below a particular cutoff let it be known and let it be known what you are thinking about that it is a potential loss of power production potential right and let the PT do the job of assessing to determine is this a bigger power issue or a bigger issue of just producing force of strength.
FUNCTION-FORWARD HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS
But let it be known, I love it whenever I see another healthcare provider perform some type of screen, like a 30 second sit to stand, a timed up and go is another one, that tells me that this is a function focused healthcare provider. And we’re speaking the same language, especially when we’re coming from the MLA tribe. We speak function, we speak that fitness forward mindset, include some of that information and that’s really going to get the point across particularly to the fitness for clinicians. I would also say Dr. Michalak is go to PTOnIce.com, look at the find an ice clinician map and build relationships with that person that is local. The second question that he asked was, are there any insights into Medicare billing or reimbursement that would allow them to do so and actually get paid for their expertise? So the question here is mainly looking at, he’s interacted with some PTs where he sent the referral that was not pain based, where these clinicians said, I can’t get this covered, right? I treat pain, I get paid to treat pain. That is not correct, right? So you can definitely get reimbursed to have the fitness forward approach when you use appropriate outcome measures. When you can demonstrate medical necessity through the performance of these validated outcome measures that we cover extensively in our MMOA level one online course, and a little bit as well in our MOA live course, when we’re using those outcome measures to demonstrate, hey, this person has a score, which based on the literature is showing that they are at a higher risk of whatever, negative health outcome, usually it’s a fall, that that warrants your services. It is medically necessary. So we can have fitness-forward physical therapy. This is what we often see in the context of home health. We treat more function than pain in the context of home health. Outpatient, not so much. It’s more of a pain driver, but you can still have a fitness-forward approach in the context of outpatient. These outcome measures are absolutely key because they demonstrate medical necessity. Multiple outcome measures I should say great conversation. So what I want y’all to do if you like this topic I want you to come to Instagram and I’m gonna drop a couple links. You could also send me a direct message At Dustin Jones dot DPT and I’ll send you the links as well because it’s a really great conversation. I think by and large Yes, we need to get people stronger We’re already really pushing forward with that and I love that but we may need to take it to the next level of power based training In terms of a new name, potentiopenia, I don’t know. I’ll let the really smart people debate that and discuss that, but I’m going to keep pushing the message that we need to build people’s resilience. We need to end one rep max living and really show that people may be quote unquote old, but not weak. Also that they may be quote unquote old and not slow. Y’all have a good rest of your Wednesday. I’ll talk to you soon.
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