Sarcopenia is an age-related decline in skeletal muscle mass and function that results in disability and loss of independence. It affects up to 30% of older adults. Exercise (particularly progressive resistance training) and nutrition are key strategies in preventing and reversing declines in muscle mass, strength and power during ageing, but many sarcopenic older adults fail to meet recommended levels of both physical activity and dietary nutrient intake. Assistive technology (AT) describes devices or systems used to maintain or improve physical functioning. These may help sarcopenic older adults to maintain independence, and also to achieve adequate physical activity and nutrition. There is a paucity of research exploring the use of AT in sarcopenic patients, but there is evidence that AT, including walking aids, may reduce functional decline in other populations with disability. Newer technologies, such as interactive and virtual reality games, as well as wearable devices and smartphone applications, smart homes, 3D printed foods, exoskeletons and robotics, and neuromuscular electrical stimulation also hold promise for improving engagement in physical activity and nutrition behaviours to prevent further functional declines. While AT may be beneficial for sarcopenic patients, clinicians should be aware of its potential limitations. In particular, there are high rates of patient abandonment of AT, which may be minimised by appropriate training and monitoring of use. Clinicians should preferentially prescribe AT devices which promote physical activity. Further research is required in sarcopenic populations to identify strategies for effective use of current and emerging AT devices.
- Assistive technology
- Functional decline