Japan is a country that has been known for its longevity and low ageing rate of 25% (compared to other countries), which has spurred a vast amount of age-related research pertaining to the Japanese population. Much of this research has placed significant attention of sarcopenia, along with the accompanying decrease in muscle strength and motor function, as these factors can lead to weakness and increase the need for nursing care for older adults. Past studies have shown that a systemic decrease in muscle mass is a marker for low nutritional status and less frequent physical activity. Moreover, associations between swallowing function and systemic disease, oral function, and nutritional status among the elderly who need nursing care have also been disclosed. However, not many studies have examined the connection between swallowing function and the systemic decreases in muscle mass.
Past studies have shown various risk factors for dysphagia among elderly people who need nursing care. For example, if a systemic decrease in muscle mass lowers one’s swallowing ability, their nutritional status could also decrease, leading to a vicious cycle. However, muscle mass can be enhanced by improving nutritional status and physical activity, and it may be an important guideline for examining swallowing rehabilitation in instances of dysphagia that are caused by aging. Thus, a recent study used skeletal muscle mass (as examined using the Skeletal Muscle Index [SMI]) as a marker of nutritional status and physical activity, and aimed to clarify the association between SMI and dysphagia in these patients. Continue Reading