Project Lead

Professor Andrea Maier

Lead partner

The University of Melbourne


Melbourne Health; Northern Health; Western Health

Project summary

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Sarcopenia is not often diagnosed and can cause serious falls, morbidity and even death. In geriatric patients some 30-40% are affected – a major burden on the health system.

The goal of the project is to counteract sarcopenia in geriatric patients. The Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH) has enrolled 790 patients and is actively following patients up to 12 months post-discharge to assess patient health, including patient’s level of independence, mobility, rates of admission to hospital and overall survival. The study has already determined that 42% of these patients have sarcopenia and that a person’s lean muscle mass was reduced by about 700g within just 3 weeks of admission to hospital – meaning hospitalisation made the problem worse. This is likely due to a lack of knowledge about sarcopenia among Australian and New Zealand healthcare professionals, lack of diagnostic tools and treatment protocols.

The project will gather evidence on the prevalence of sarcopenia from multiple geriatric rehabilitation units across three health services. In addition, a biobank of blood and muscle/skin samples is being established to help researchers understand loss of muscle mass and help develop interventions

This project has had a significant impact on effectively addressing the problem of sarcopenia in patients through:

1) Defining diagnostic criteria enabling stratification of treatment for sarcopenia
2) Clarifying prognosis by establishing Australia’s largest cohort of well-characterised sarcopenia patients undergoing long term follow up; and
3) Providing the platform for future studies to secure further improvements in models of care

1. Van Ancum, J., Meskers, C., Reijnierse, E., Yeung, S., Jonkman, N., & Trappenburg, M. et al. (2019). Lack of Knowledge Contrasts the Willingness to Counteract Sarcopenia Among Community-Dwelling Adults. Journal Of Aging And Health, 089826431985284. doi: 10.1177/0898264319852840

2. Clark, A., Reijnierse, E., Lim, W., & Maier, A. (2020). Prevalence of malnutrition comparing the GLIM criteria, ESPEN definition and MST malnutrition risk in geriatric rehabilitation patients: RESORT. Clinical Nutrition. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2020.03.015

3. Yeung, S., Reijnierse, E., Trappenburg, M., Meskers, C., & Maier, A. (2019). Current knowledge and practice of Australian and New Zealand health‐care professionals in sarcopenia diagnosis and treatment: Time to move forward! Australasian Journal On Ageing. doi: 10.1111/ajag.12730