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  • Study shows heavy lifting may help osteoporosis

    Author: Nicole Madigan

A Griffith University research team has identified heavy lifting as a way to assist patients with osteoporosis.

The team is encouraging clinicians to refer patients to heavy lifting exercise program to improve bone health. They believe this type of exercise may also reduce the risk of fragility fractures which can occur from minimal trauma such as a fall.

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This type of fracture can dramatically reduce quality of life, lead to a loss of independence, and increase risk of an earlier death.

The team, including Professor Belinda Beck, Dr Amy Harding and Julian Currie, from Griffith University’s School of Health Sciences and Social Work is conducting the STOP FRACTURE! study, which aims to reduce the number of fragility fractures in Australians over the age 45.

“Osteoporosis is a silent epidemic and unfortunately most people don’t even know they have low bone mass until they fracture doing something innocuous,” Professor Beck said.

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“Our study is looking at upgrading the osteoporosis model of care to include referral to an exercise program that we have shown, in clinical trials here at Griffith, builds bone and improves muscle strength and other risk factors for fracture.

“The exercise involves lifting weights, which doctors tend to avoid because people with osteoporosis can be quite frail, but we have found it is safe and effective if supervised closely.”

The study’s main goal is to increase doctor awareness of this effective exercise program, called Onero, for osteoporosis.

It also hopes to determine whether a greater awareness would increase referrals and further prevent fragility fractures.

For the past nine years, The Bone Clinic - a translational research clinic -- has implemented Onero into clinical practice with ongoing patient monitoring to determine if it is safe and effective in the real world.

The results speak for themselves.

“We have patients in their 20s to those in their 90s lifting weights and the effect is always incredible,” Professor Beck said.

“This program has a strong emphasis on prevention because we know once you’ve had your first fracture, you’re four times more likely to have another.

“But we have lots of people lifting weights who have already had multiple fractures, and they are going great guns too.

“In the STOP FRACTURE! study, we’re working closely with doctors in hospitals and medical practices to establish a sustainable referral pathway so we can continue to help people to prevent fractures into the future.”

Professor Beck received a $1.4 million grant for her STOP FRACTURE! Project. The project name, stands for Strength Training for Optimum Prevention of Fracture: Refocussing a Clinical Paradigm that Underutilises Recognised Effective Therapy.

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Nicole Madigan

Nicole Madigan is a widely published journalist with more than 15 years experience in the media and communications industries.

Specialising in health, business, property and finance, Nicole writes regularly for numerous high-profile newspapers, magazines and online publications.

Before moving into freelance writing almost a decade ago, Nicole was an on-air reporter with Channel Nine and a newspaper journalist with News Limited.

Nicole is also the Director of content and communications agency Stella Communications (www.stellacomms.com) and a children's author.