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Age- and Stroke-Related Skeletal Muscle Changes: A Review for the Geriatric Clinician

Sions, Jaclyn Megan PT, DPT, OCS; Tyrell, Christine M. PT, DPT, NCS; Knarr, Brian A. MS; Jancosko, Angela PT, MPT, NCS; Binder-Macleod, Stuart A. PT, PhD

Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy: July/September 2012 - Volume 35 - Issue 3 - p 155–161
doi: 10.1519/JPT.0b013e318236db92
Special Interest Papers

Independently, aging and stroke each have a significant negative impact on skeletal muscle, but the potential cumulative effects of aging and stroke have not been explored. Optimal interventions for individuals post stroke may include those that specifically target skeletal muscle. Addressing changes in muscles may minimize activity limitations and enhance participation post stroke. This article reviews the impact of aging and stroke on muscle morphology and composition, including fiber atrophy, reductions in muscle cross-sectional area, changes in muscle fiber distributions, and increases in intramuscular fat. Relationships between changes in muscle structure, muscle function, and physical mobility are reviewed. Clinical recommendations that preserve and enhance skeletal muscle in the aging adult and individuals post stroke are discussed. Future research directions that include systematic comparison of the differences in skeletal muscle between younger and older adults who have sustained a stroke are suggested.

Biomechanics and Movement Science Program, University of Delaware, Newark.

Address correspondence to: Jaclyn Megan Sions, PT, DPT, OCS, Department of Physical Therapy, University of Delaware, 053 McKinly Lab, Newark, DE 19716 (megsions@udel.edu).

The work of Dr. Sions was supported by R21 HD057274 (NICHD) and the Promotion of Doctoral Studies I/II Scholarships from the Foundation for Physical Therapy. The work of Dr. Binder-Macleod was supported by NR010786 (NIH).

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Copyright © 2012 the Section on Geriatrics of the American Physical Therapy Association
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