How to assess functional status: A new muscle quality index
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- Barbat-Artigas, S., Rolland, Y., Zamboni, M. et al. J Nutr Health Aging (2012) 16: 67. doi:10.1007/s12603-012-0004-5
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Aging is associated with decreases in muscle mass, muscle strength and muscle power, with muscle strength declining at a higher rate than muscle mass, but at a lower rate than muscle power. This progressive mismatch suggests a deterioration of muscle “quality” that may lead to functional incapacities. Although it may be difficult to synthesize the concept of muscle quality, the aim of the present paper was to propose a clinical definition of muscle quality in regard to the functional status. Accordingly, the muscle strength or muscle power per unit of muscle mass ratios appear to be clinically relevant markers of muscle quality. Several mechanisms susceptible to influence these ratios have been described, among which age, gender, sex hormones, obesity, physical activity and fibrosis. Various methods to assess muscle quality in both the clinical and research fields have also been listed, with a particular interest for the tests used to measure muscle power. Finally, we proposed a clinical screening tool to detect individuals at risk of functional incapacities. Briefly, the muscle quality score is based on handgrip strength assessment by hand dynamometer, muscle mass measurement by bioelectrical analysis, and leg muscle power estimation using a chair stand test.