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  • Laarbeeklaan 101

    1090 Jette


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The PHD student does her research within the Brussels study on the early predictors of frailty (BUTTERFLY) an explorative observational study with a 2year follow-up. All eligible participants are assessed at baseline; those who are considered to be non-frail (i.e. robust on frailty scaled: 0/5 for the Fried Phenotype and <0.25 for the Rockwood Frailty Index (operationalised by Collerton et al.) and <4/15 for the Groningen Frailty Indicator) are invited to be reassessed for potential early markers of frailty every 6 months for 2 years. Baseline data will be used to evaluate the predictive value of the new frailty ageing markers for the occurrence of frailty or maintenance of robustness. Subjects who were 80 years or older, who are living independently in the community and who understand Dutch or French are eligible to participate. Those elderly who are unable to participate in the assessments due to physical (e.g. unable to stand up or walk) or cognitive (unable to understand the test instructions and/ or Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE score <23/30) impairments are excluded as well as those with a recent (past 6 months) diagnosis of cancer and/ or who had surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy within the past 6 months or scheduled for the near future.  The study was approved by the Medical Ethical Committee of the University Hospital of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and all participants provide written informed consent. A major challenge presented by an ageing population is frailty, because increasing age is a risk factor for frailty.

My work will focus on the physical characteristics of frailty. An essential domain in the current research on frailty is the physical one, which is reflected by the fact that a loss in physical reserve capacity is an indispensable component of all comprehensive frailty scales. Since muscle strength and walking speed are the characteristics most identified in a pre-frail population, we explore these physical components extensively by using sensitive tests aimed to challenge the reserve capacity of the older adults, in order to detect small changes over time. The focus will be on the identification of physical ((self-perceived) fatigue and body composition) positive markers which may outweigh the deficits in reserve capacity, thus conserving the robust and independent state.


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