Tagged / elderly

Article published in Physiological Reports


The article titled “The effects of 8 weeks of inspiratory muscle training on the balance of healthy older adults: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study” has been published by Physiological Reports.


It is the first research to describe the effects of inspiratory muscle training (i.e. breathing exercises that improve the strength of inspiratory muscles) on static and dynamic balance (measured with the clinical tool mini-BEST) and functional mobility (such as Timed Up and Go and 5 sit to stand tasks) with community dwellers older adults (aged 65+).

The research is part of Francesco Ferraro PhD journey. Journey guided with the supervision of Professor Alison McConnell, Dr James Gavin and Tom Wainwright

The article is now fully available as open access here



To examine the effects of 8‐week unsupervised, home‐based inspiratory muscle training (IMT) on the balance and physical performance of healthy older adults. Fifty‐nine participants (74 ± 6 years) were assigned randomly in a double‐blinded fashion to either IMT or sham‐IMT, using a pressure threshold loading device. The IMT group performed 30‐breath twice daily at ~50% of maximal inspiratory pressure (MIP). The sham‐IMT group performed 60‐breaths once daily at ~15% MIP; training was home‐based and unsupervised, with adherence self‐reported through training diaries. Respiratory outcomes were assessed pre‐ and postintervention, including forced vital capacity, forced expiratory volume, peak inspiratory flow rate (PIFR), MIP, and inspiratory peak power. Balance and physical performance outcomes were measured using the shortened version of the Balance Evaluation System test (mini‐BEST), Biodex® postural stability test, timed up and go, five sit‐to‐stand, isometric “sit‐up” and Biering–Sørensen tests. Between‐group effects were examined using two‐way repeated measures ANOVA, with Bonferroni correction. After 8‐week, the IMT group demonstrated greater improvements (P ≤ 0.05) in: PIFR (IMT = 0.9 ± 0.3 L sec−1; sham‐IMT = 0.3 L sec−1); mini‐BEST (IMT = 3.7 ± 1.3; sham‐IMT = 0.5 ± 0.9) and Biering–Sørensen (IMT = 62.9 ± 6.4 sec; sham‐IMT = 24.3 ± 1.4 sec) tests. The authors concluded that twice daily unsupervised, home‐based IMT is feasible and enhances inspiratory muscle function and balance for community‐dwelling older adults.

BU’s Joanne Holmes’ interview with Elder about healthy appetite in older people

Food scientist and BU lecturer in Nutrition, Joanne Holmes, talks to Elder about the importance of socialisation, stimulation and choice to encourage healthy appetite in older people.

“As a nutritionist, I became aware of the fact that there was growing evidence that under-nutrition, commonly known as malnutrition, is a prevalent problem for older people. The figures show that up to about 45 percent of older people living in residential care are at risk of under-nutrition, and for those over 75 years old living on their own, it runs between 35-40 percent,” says Joanne Holmes.

“It was apparent that we were good at monitoring and assessing the fact that people were undernourished – what wasn’t so clear was what was happening to follow that up and move people from being undernourished to an acceptable weight.

“I wanted to understand what and how much people were eating and drinking and whether or not it was the mealtime experience that affected that.

“There are usually a series of events that are linked to undernourishment when someone goes into care. What generally happens is that someone will struggle at home, for one reason or another – perhaps there might be a dementia diagnosis, and they can’t continue to live on their own, or they fall and aren’t able to get around. They eventually end up in hospital, and then in long-term residential care. But once they’re in care, it’s tough to try and get them eating again.

“I come from a food science background, and I think a lot of the work to-date has been done by looking at undernourishment from a clinical point of view. I wanted to come at it from a food angle and look at enhancing the eating experience for those in care.”

Read the full interview here.

PhD student visiting


“[…] collaboration is more important than the competition.”

Bertrand Russell


Eduardo Martínez-Carbonell Guillamón is a PhD student from the faculty of Health and Sport Science at University Catholic of San Antonio in Murcia, a lovely city in the south of Spain.

Collaborating with Université Catholique de Louvain and School Top Trades Du Sport, Eduardo is developing a research named “Bone mineral density in a population of the region of Murcia and its relationship with physical exercise”.

His aim is to search for risk factors of osteoporosis and then find a prevention plan based on physical exercises.

From September Eduardo joined our University as a visiting PhD student collaborating with PGR Francesco Ferraro, on the relationship between trunk muscles training and balance, under the supervision of Professor Alison McConnell, Professor Tom Wainwright and Dr. James Gavin.

Working together at the Orthopedic Research Institute is being a gratifying experience.

We both are aware that falls prevention is a sensitive topic that required an interdisciplinary approach.

To accomplish and maintaining a high-quality standard for our volunteers, we are working side by side to get the best out of this experience and actively collaborate in the field of elderly health care.

From this collaboration we hope to improve our knowledge and networks for research to come.