Study on movement and strengthening of residents in care facilities

The Institute’s Department of Muscle and Bone Metabolism is currently conducting the AMKNIMSa study in care facilities to investigate how movement and thus well-being can be increased in elderly people. In this study, aspects from space medicine are taken into account: in space, astronauts experience physically comparable degradation processes as elderly people. Both groups of people, astronauts and residents of nursing homes, have to cope with the challenge of muscle and bone atrophy due to too little exercise. Both in weightlessness as well as during prolonged bedriddenness or immobilization, muscles are not used and muscle cells therefore degenerate. To address this issue, the DLR Institute of Aerospace Medicine has transferred training concepts from space research, medicine and sports science to the field of care for older and the sick persons as part of the Competence Network for Immobilization-related Muscle Disorders (KNIMS) and has begun a corresponding study.

Photo: see below
Image source: Luis Nelsen

In Krefeld, Germany, four residents are taking part in the daily exercises, of course with the active support of the social care staff, who have been trained accordingly in advance. One of these test subjects is 82-year-old Irene R. „I move around a lot when I can,“ she explains, „but I have to hold on to things quite often. That’s why I think it’s good to get a little stronger through the exercises.“ Misako K., her supervisor, confirms that the exercises are already having an effect after two weeks: „Some people say they don’t notice any change. But I already see a small but steady progress. For example they can bend down one centimeter more every third day,“ she says.
The training intensity is adapted to the individual performance of the exerciser, whereby the highest possible intensity is aimed for in order to achieve a noticeable effect. In order to measure the training progress, grip strength, gait speed, body composition, and bounce were determined for the subjects before the start of the first four-week campaign of the study. Interviews about the participants‘ experiences and measurements will then be repeated after four weeks.

Regardless of what the results of the study will be, Misako K. is convinced that the exercises are useful: „Our goal is to make life as easy as possible for our residents,“ she notes. „If we can achieve an improvement in mobility with the exercises, they are definitely worth the effort. In addition, we are happy to try something new for a change. You can already see the first success,“ she is convinced. Study participant Irene R. is also happy about the change in her daily routine and the chance to improve her mobility. “It’s very important to be able to walk by yourself for as long as possible,“ she says with a smile.

German Aerospace Center e.V.
Institute of Aerospace Medicine
Linder Höhe, 51147 Cologne
Ansprechpartner: Jonas Böcker

__ This article is based on the article by Michael Otterbein in Crevelt Magazine::__