Individuals with impaired muscle function have the problem of being unable to prevent, or to recover quickly following, the moment of a fall. Bone density in this context is of secondary order. "You may consider an individual of age 60 versus one of age 80 with identical bone density. The older individual may have a ten-fold higher fracture risk," says the professor.

Peter Schneider’s, Professor of Medicine at the University of Wurzburg, new device allows digital assessment of the quality of an individual's muscle function. His invention looks like a scale, but it has special design features. During the assessment process, the patient stands with both feet on the device, which measures the amount of force generated at three points. A computer receives the signals from the device and calculates the patient's weight and centre of gravity.

Assessment of balance is achieved when the patient stands heel-to-toe, with both feet in a line, and closes the eyes. "This provokes imbalance," Schneider explains. A person who tries out this so-called "tandem stand" quickly realizes that it results in unusual muscle activity. The body tries to stay in balance, thereby increasing the amount of coordinated activity among the vestibular system, nerves and muscles of the legs and feet.

The device registers changes in these forces and displays them on a computer screen. Special software allows extremely accurate documentation of different deficits, Schneider emphasizes. In addition, muscle frequency analysis allows the device to determine whether an imbalance is caused predominantly by muscular or neuronal deficiency.

MEDICA.de; Source: Bayerische Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg