Rapid Applied Research Translation 

Successful Grants & Fellowships

Prof Andrea Maier

MACH Partners: Melbourne Health, Northern Health, University of Melbourne, Western Health

Project titleEnhancing Muscle POWER in Geriatric Rehabilitation: EMPOWER-GR 

Summary: The worldwide population is ageing and it is expected that the proportion of people aged 60 years and above will triple over the next 30 years. Sarcopenia – low muscle mass – is a significant problem for us as we age and is often undiagnosed, leading to serious falls, morbidity and even death. The project gathers evidence on the prevalence of sarcopenia across multiple health services in addition to establishing a biobank of blood and muscle/skin samples. This will help researchers better understand loss of muscle mass to address sarcopenia through interventions and educational programs for healthcare professionals.

About Prof Maier's Research Project

What is the problem you're trying to solve? 

The worldwide population is ageing; it is expected that the proportion of people aged 60 years and above will triple over the next 30 years. The longer we live, the more age related diseases we get. Sarcopenia – low muscle mass – is a significant problem for us as we age. It is not often diagnosed and can cause serious falls, morbidity and even death. In geriatric patients some 30-40% are affected – a major burden on the health system.

About this research translation project 

The goal of the project is to counteract sarcopenia in geriatric patients. The Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH) has enrolled 790 patients and is actively following patients up to 12 months post-discharge to assess patient health, including patient’s level of independence, mobility, rates of admission to hospital and overall survival. The study has already determined that 42% of these patients have sarcopenia and that a person’s lean muscle mass was reduced by about 700g within just 3 weeks of admission to hospital – meaning hospitalisation made the problem worse. This is likely due to a lack of knowledge about sarcopenia among Australian and New Zealand healthcare professionals, lack of diagnostic tools and treatment protocols.


The project will gather evidence on the prevalence of sarcopenia from multiple geriatric rehabilitation units across three health services. In addition, a biobank of blood and muscle/skin samples is being established to help researchers understand loss of muscle mass and help develop interventions

The Impacts

This project has had a significant impact on effectively addressing the problem of sarcopenia in patients through:


1) Defining diagnostic criteria enabling stratification of treatment for sarcopenia


2) Clarifying prognosis by establishing Australia’s largest cohort of well-characterised sarcopenia patients undergoing long term follow up; and


3) Providing the platform for future studies to secure further improvements in models of care


Publications associated with the project:

1. Van Ancum, J., Meskers, C., Reijnierse, E., Yeung, S., Jonkman, N., & Trappenburg, M. et al. (2019). Lack of Knowledge Contrasts the Willingness to Counteract Sarcopenia Among Community-Dwelling Adults. Journal Of Aging And Health, 089826431985284. doi: 10.1177/0898264319852840


2. Clark, A., Reijnierse, E., Lim, W., & Maier, A. (2020). Prevalence of malnutrition comparing the GLIM criteria, ESPEN definition and MST malnutrition risk in geriatric rehabilitation patients: RESORT. Clinical Nutrition. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2020.03.015


3. Yeung, S., Reijnierse, E., Trappenburg, M., Meskers, C., & Maier, A. (2019). Current knowledge and practice of Australian and New Zealand health‐care professionals in sarcopenia diagnosis and treatment: Time to move forward! Australasian Journal On Ageing. doi: 10.1111/ajag.12730


Download this project summary:

For more information on this project, please contact the MACH office:

(03) 8344 9973



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