In Brief

IN BRIEF

April 06, 2009

Older women can add to strength

Most people can build muscle through strength training, it has long been thought - even people in their 80s who have never hoisted a dumbbell.

But it may be time to tweak that idea. A new study found that women in their 80s who do resistance training might not boost their muscle mass.

However, this doesn't mean older women are off the hook from working out - the study also found that despite the lack of muscle growth, the participants could lift more weight after the weight-training program.

The study focused on two small groups of women: six in their 80s, and nine in their late teens and early 20s, which acted as a control group.

Both completed a 12-week strength-training program that focused on high-intensity, progressive resistance training for their quadriceps, or thigh muscles.

At the start of the study, the older women's thigh muscles were 23 percent smaller than those of the younger women, and the older women had 36 percent less strength in their knee extensors. MRI results showed that after the training session, muscle size in the older women stayed the same, while younger women showed improvement. However, the older women were able to lift 26 percent more by the end.

Researchers believe the change could be due to a more efficient nervous system that was better able to stimulate the muscles and coordinate them to get the job done.

The study was done out of the Human Performance Laboratory at Ball State University in Tennessee.

Los Angeles Times

Maggots on leg ulcers as good as gel therapy

In a study testing treatments for leg ulcers, British doctors found that a surprising, yet perhaps revolting, option works just as well as standard treatment: maggots. If that sounds like a step backward, it's probably because Europeans first began using maggots to treat wounds about 700 years ago.

Researchers at the University of York studied 267 patients with leg ulcers in the United Kingdom from 2004 to 2007. Patients were either treated with a gel commonly used for ulcers or with maggots. The maggots were bred in sterile conditions and were about the size of a grain of rice. The insects were either packed into a teabag-sized packet or corralled into the wound with bandages.

Patients who got the maggots healed just as quickly as those who got the gel, but suffered a little more pain in the process. The research, along with another study that said maggots were as cost-effective as the gel, was published in the BMJ, formerly known as the British Medical Journal.

Maggots reportedly were used during the 14th century to treat wounds, and military doctors also turned to them in the 18th century. Maggots were commonly used in this way as late as the 1930s, but fell out of favor when antibiotics and surgery became widely available after World War II.

Associated Press

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