Date of Award


Document Type



Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Steven Halcrow


Sarcopenia, Disability, Physical Therapy, Extremity muscle weakness, frailty, muscle mass decline


Introduction: The aging population is on the rise and is expected to increase from 8.5% to 16.5% for those aged sixty-five years and older by 2050. With the expected rise comes the increased prevalence of frailty that leads to a decline in physiological function placing individuals at risk for sarcopenia, disability, falls, hospitalization, and death. The purpose of this case study is on lower extremity muscle weakness (sarcopenia) and frailty and the effectiveness of physical therapy to improve muscle strength, balance, proprioception, and functional mobility to decrease the risk of falls, improve performance with daily activities, and improve overall quality of life.

Case Description: The patient was a 77-year-old female who presented to physical therapy with bilateral lower extremity weakness and decreased functional mobility due to an extensive list of comorbidities starting at the age of 2. The initial examination and evaluation found deficits in muscle strength, range of motion, balance, and functional mobility placing her at an increased risk for falls; given the diagnosis of decreased lower extremity strength, unspecified abnormalities of gait and mobility, and unsteadiness on feet.

Intervention: The patient was seen twice per week for eight weeks. Sessions focused on bilateral lower extremity neuromuscular re-education, strength, aerobic, and gait training, along with balance and proprioceptive training.

Outcomes: The patient showed both subjective and objective improvements in strength and mobility over the course of the eight weeks and was able to decrease her risk of falls from a moderate fall risk to a low fall risk per functional outcome measures.

Discussion: After evaluation the patient presenting with bilateral lower extremity weakness due to sarcopenia and frailty, it was shown that physical therapy intervention moderately improves muscle strength, active range of motion, balance, and gait to improve overall functional mobility and quality of life for the completion of daily activities. Case findings reporting on similar literature have also shown that physical therapy plays a significant role in reducing fall risk, hospitalization, and death in patients with sarcopenia and frailty. Further quality evidence is needed within the topic of physical therapy treatment parameters, successful interventions, and prognosis