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Reversing age-related declining lung function


Jessica Huxley
8 November 2017

Researchers from Southern Cross University and Macquarie University are conducting a world-first trial that explores a new way to prevent declining lung function.

The Manual therapy, Exercise and Lung function Trial (MELT) aims to improve age-related declining lung function by reversing the chest wall stiffness that occurs as we age. This randomised controlled trial on healthy people between the ages of 50 and 65 years will use osteopathic manual therapy to increase flexibility of the chest wall and exercise to improve respiratory muscle strength.

Students enrolled in the Master of Osteopathic Medicine at Southern Cross University Lismore campus will deliver both interventions, ahead of the 2018 launch of the Bachelor of Clinical Sciences (Osteopathic Studies) at the University’s Gold Coast campus – the first osteopathy degree to be offered in Queensland.

 “The significance and innovation of this research is its attempt to address age-dependent declining lung function as a way of preventing decreases in muscle strength, exercise capacity and quality of life,” said Associate Professor Sandra Grace from the School of Health and Human Sciences at Southern Cross University.

The trial is a collaboration between Associate Professor Grace and Dr Roger Engel from the Department of Chiropractic at Macquarie University.

“We begin to lose lung capacity from the age of 30 and by the time we reach 50 it may only be half of what it was when we were younger,” said Dr Engel.

“As respiratory capacity falls, less oxygen is able to get into our blood stream. This reduction in capacity is part of the reason for increasing shortness of breath, decreasing stamina and endurance and a greater susceptibility to respiratory infections that increases as we get older.”

The first stage of the trial, conducted at the University’s Lismore campus, was successfully completed in March 2017.

Now the trial moves to the Gold Coast, with sessions starting from November 6 run by the Southern Cross University Health Clinic located at the University’s Gold Coast campus next to the Gold Coast Airport.

Participation in the trial involves eight visits over a nine-week period, with all interventions provided free of charge. All participants will receive six exercise sessions, while two-thirds of the participants will also receive 6 osteopathic treatments.

Criteria for participation in the trial:
• 50 to 65 years of age
• Healthy, with no history of respiratory disease
• Currently non-smoking (for preceding six months)
• Able to walk unaided and unassisted

For more information about the trial or to enrol, contact the Trial Coordinator on:

Email: [email protected]

Phone: 0432 582 586

This research project has obtained approval by the Human Research Ethics Committee of Southern Cross University (approval number: ECN-16-11).

MELT will receive support from Osteopathy Australia and Southern Cross University.