Academics & Research

Research

Method Bulks Up Muscle During Bed Rest

People go to the hospital to get well, but with long visits come risks. Among them is muscle wasting caused by days, or weeks, spent lying down and sitting. The average patient bounces back over time but for weaker individuals, particularly the frail elderly, extended inactivity can be a tipping point that leads to a spiraling decline in health.

A new study led by Micah Drummond, Ph.D., assistant professor of physical therapy at University of Utah College of Health has found a way to keep muscles from deteriorating during bed rest. A combination of supplementing diet with extra protein, and electrically stimulating the tissue with a device commonly used in physical therapy, halted the damage.

Study participants who did not receive the two treatments lost four percent - or nearly one pound - of leg muscle. By contrast, the newly developed regimen prevented muscle loss. The results were published in the journal, Rejuvenation Research.

Even though treatment boosted muscle mass, muscle strength still declined. Retaining mass alone could have its own benefits. In addition to providing movement and might, muscles perform other functions such as helping keep blood sugar levels in check. Drummond will explore those potential benefits in continuing investigations and will search for the key to retaining muscle function.

Micah DrummondPhysical Therapy