Tongue Strength Is Associated with Jumping Mechanography Performance and Handgrip Strength but Not with Classic Functional Tests in Older Adults

School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin
Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (Impact Factor: 4.57). 02/2013; 61(3). DOI: 10.1111/jgs.12124
Source: PubMed


To determine whether classic muscle function tests and jumping mechanography (JM) are related to tongue strength.
Ninety-seven community-dwelling individuals aged 70 and older (49 female, 48 male, mean age 80.7, range 70–95) with and without identified sarcopenia.
Participants performed muscle function tests including the Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB), grip strength, and JM. Isometric tongue strength was evaluated using the Iowa Oral Performance Instrument (IOPI). JM consisted of maximal countermovement jumps performed on a force plate to calculate weight-corrected peak power and jump height. Total body dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry was used to assess appendicular lean mass (ALM) to define sarcopenia based on commonly used ALM/height2 cutoffs. Associations between IOPI measures and other muscle function tests were evaluated.
Sarcopenia was present in 23.7% (23/97) of this cohort. Anterior isometric tongue pressure was positively correlated with grip strength (P = .003), jump height (P = .01), and power (P = .04). Individuals in the lowest tertile of tongue pressure had lower scores on these muscle function tests than individuals in the other tertiles. Classic functional tests and ALM/height2 were unrelated to tongue strength.
In older adults with and without sarcopenia, isometric tongue pressure is positively correlated with grip strength and jump height and power. These data support consideration of oropharyngeal functional decline as part of the sarcopenia syndrome.

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    • "Despite structural differences between the tongue and hand, the techniques used to assess muscle motor unit activities in each case are those devised for assessment of limb muscle motor unit activity. Accordingly, previous studies compared tongue and hand muscle function in regard to strength (Buehring et al. 2013), fatigue (Solomon et al. 2002; Adams et al. 2014a, b), movement precision (Sutton et al. 1977) and force regulation (Adams et al. 2014b). The results of this work indicate that the control is comparable in each structure although pinpoint accuracy of the hand appears somewhat greater— at least within the context of displacement (Sussman 1970). "
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    • "Understandably, dysfunction of the respiratory muscles increases the risk of aspiration and aspiration pneumonia [54] [55]. Decreased masticatory muscle force and weak swallowing function lead to malnutrition [56] [57] [58] [59] [60]. The incidence of infections is known to be significantly higher in patients diagnosed with sarcopenia and hospitalized in geriatric wards [61]. "
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