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December 2021

Assessing the Effects of Aging on Muscle Stiffness Using Shear Wave Elastography and Myotonometer

Authors: Yerim Do, Prarthana Sanya Lall, Haneul Lee

Author information: Department of Physical Therapy, College of Health Science, Gachon University, 191 Hambangmoe-ro, Yeonsu-gu, Incheon 21936, Korea

Journal: Healthcare - December 2021, Volume 9, Issue 12, Article no. 1733 (DOI: 10.3390/healthcare9121733)

The current study investigated the differences in muscle stiffness between older and young adults at rest and during contraction. We also evaluated the differences in muscle stiffness assessments using a myotonometer (MyotonPRO) and shear wave elastography (SWE).

Twenty-two older adults (mean age, 66.6 ± 1.6 years) and 23 young adults (mean age, 22.5 ± 2.0 years) participated in this study. Muscle stiffness of the tibialis anterior (TA) and medial gastrocnemius (MG) muscles at rest and during contraction were measured using SWE and the MyotonPRO. The stiffness increase rate (SIR) was also calculated to determine the absolute stiffness difference.

The mean muscle stiffness of the TA and MG muscles was significantly lower in older adults than in young adults at rest and during contraction (p < 0.05). Similarly, the SIR values of the TA and MG were significantly lower in older adults than in young adults (p < 0.05).

Our results indicate that both instruments could be used to quantify muscle stiffness changes and serve as a cornerstone for assessing aging-related losses in muscle function. Stiffness measures may help exercise professionals to develop an in-depth understanding of muscle impairment at the tissue level.

 

Keywords: aging, muscle, myotonometer, shear wave elastography, stiffness

Our results indicate that muscle stiffness measured using both instruments was significantly lower in older adults than in young adults both at rest and during contraction, while the SIR was significantly lower in the elderly adults. These findings suggest that both instruments could be used to quantify muscle stiffness changes and serve as a cornerstone for assessing aging-related losses in muscle function.

Moreover, stiffness measures may help exercise professionals to develop an in-depth understanding of muscle impairment at the tissue level, and eventually they may be used to design effective exercise regimes that focus on preventing muscle loss and other metabolic muscular alterations that occur with age.

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