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Background: Higher muscle echo intensity (EI) reflects higher content of fat and/or connective tissue within skeletal muscle, eventually inducing lower muscle strength, physical dysfunction, and metabolic impairment. Continuous exercise decreases muscle EI in older individuals; however, it is not well understood how several months’ rehabilitation exercise affects gradation-based EI. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of 6 months of rehabilitation exercise on gradation-based higher and lower EI in older men and women. Methods: Twenty-seven men and women (7 men, 20 women; age, 75.6 ± 6.4 years; height, 154.3 ± 8.5 cm; weight, 55.8 ± 9.7 kg) participated in this study. This study was a one-group before-and-after trial. They needed long-term care for activities of daily living. They performed rehabilitation exercises consisting of resistance exercises using a hydraulic resistance machine, stretching, and aerobic exercises using a recumbent bicycle once or twice a week for 6 months. B-mode ultrasonographic transverse image was taken from thigh muscles, e.g., rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, and biceps femoris. We calculated gradation-based cross-sectional area (CSA) from thigh muscles by dividing 256 greyscale level to 10 different components levels (e.g., 0–24, 25–49, 50–74, …, 200–224 and 225–249 a.u.). Results: Lowest EI (e.g., 0–24 a.u.) CSA of thigh muscle was significantly increased after the exercise (0.3 ± 0.3 to 1.0 ± 0.8 cm2; P < 0.05). Middle to higher EI (e.g., 50–74, 75–99, 100–124, 125–149, 150–174, 175–199 and 200–224 a.u.) CSAs were significantly decreased from 23.0 to 68.7% after the exercise (P < 0.05). Conclusions: Several months’ rehabilitation exercise affected both lower and higher EI in older men and women. This result suggests that rehabilitation exercise changes muscle composition by increasing contractile muscle tissue and decreasing fat and connective tissues.
Yoshiko, A., Kaji, T., Kozuka, T., Sawazaki, T., & Akima, H. (2021). Evaluation of rehabilitation exercise effects by using gradation-based skeletal muscle echo intensity in older individuals: a one-group before-and-after trial study. BMC Geriatrics, 21(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12877-021-02423-3