.Cognitive impairment has been linked to weak hand grip in senior citizens, a recent study reports.
Older adults with a weaker handgrip were more likely to be cognitively impaired than those with a stronger grip, according to this National Institute of Aging (NIA) funded study.
The findings suggest that handgrip strength may be a potential low-cost, easy way to help detect cognitive impairment. And, it could identify people who may benefit from early interventions.
Cognitive Impairment: Study Results
Researchers from North Dakota State University evaluated data over an eight-year period from almost 14,000 people, age 50 or older.
A handheld instrument called a dynamometer was used to assess handgrip strength, and a screening tool was used to measure cognitive function every two years. Of the 13,828 participants who were assessed, 1,309 had some degree of cognitive impairment.
Results showed that each 11 pound decrease in handgrip strength — was linked to 10% greater odds of having cognitive impairment. For the 264 participants with severe cognitive impairment, the odds of a lower grip strength were 18% greater than for all other participants.
As people age, they lose muscle mass, resulting in a weaker grip. In addition, grip strength also can weaken due to age-related changes in parts of the brain that coordinate movement. These brain areas also correspond to cognition.
A Marker For Early Intervention
The positive correlation between a decline in cognition to weaker hand grip strength, suggests that it might be a good way to provide early treatments. Future research should explore the connection between grip strength, cognition, and structural changes in the brain.
This would be an effective and easy way to help distinguish cognitive dysfunction from normal age-related decline. And furthermore, it also could be used during clinical trials. This would measure the effectiveness of treatments that prevent or delay cognitive abilities.