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Improving Physical Function in Older Adults

Pepper Centers are prized centers of geriatric research. The UTMB Pepper Center has been continuously funded since 2000. Three studies supported by the UTMB Pepper Center are published in The Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences Vol. 74, Issue 10, October 2019.

Each of these studies looks at the nutrition and function of older adults. In the 3rd study, lead author Rachel Deer, PhD and colleagues compared supplements and exercise in a clinical trial.

Dr. Deer: “We know that hospitalization leads to a decrease in physical function in older adults. And what we were interested in was looking at different pragmatic interventions to accelerate the recovery after hospital discharge.”


We studied protein supplementation, exercise, and testosterone interventions after hospital stay.

Dr. Deer: “Our active intervention groups as a whole, when we looked at them together; they accelerated the recovery of physical function, to a greater extent than our placebo group.”

These interventions helped older adults with better recovery of physical function after a hospital stay.

Dr. Deer: “In addition, we found that these interventions may decrease 30-day re-hospitalization. Studies like this are important to help us to design larger clinical trials that help to improve our older adults’ function.”

Findings from this clinical trial suggest that these kinds of interventions may accelerate recovery in geriatric patients. These data provide essential information to design larger randomized controlled trials to test the effectiveness of these interventions. Learn more about these studies and more at the UTMB Pepper website. www.utmb.edu/pepper.

  1. EDITOR'S CHOICE: Effect of Aerobic Exercise Training and Essential Amino Acid Supplementation for 24 Weeks on Physical Function, Body Composition, and Muscle Metabolism in Healthy, Independent Older Adults: A Randomized Clinical Trial by Melissa M Markofski, PhD ; Kristofer Jennings, PhD; Kyle L Timmerman, PhD; Jared M Dickinson, PhD; Christopher S Fry, PhD; Michael S Borack, PhD; Paul T Reidy, PhD; Rachel R Deer, PhD; Amanda Randolph, MSc; Blake B Rasmussen, PhD; Elena Volpi, MD, PhD
  2. Improving Dietary Protein Quality Reduces the Negative Effects of Physical Inactivity on Body Composition and Muscle Function by Emily J Arentson-Lantz, PhD; Elfego Galvan, RD, PhD; Jennifer Ellison, PT, PhD ; Adam Wacher, MD; Douglas Paddon-Jones, PhD; Read a Press Release at the UTMB Newsroom: Higher quality protein could lead to better results for those on bed rest
  3. A Phase I Randomized Clinical Trial of Evidence-Based, Pragmatic Interventions to Improve Functional Recovery After Hospitalization in Geriatric Patients by Rachel R Deer, PhD; Jared M Dickinson, PhD; Jacques Baillargeon, PhD ; Steven R Fisher, PhD, PT; Mukaila Raji, MD, MS; Elena Volpi, MD, PhD

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The Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center Award #P30-AG024832 is funded by
the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services.