Dr Tuire Karaharju-huisman
Allied Health and Exercise Therapy are Vital to Maximise the Health Outcomes for All.
Wednesday 12 October 2022
2:00pm – 2:30pm
Dr Tuire Karaharju-Huisman graduated as a physiotherapist in Finland. After two years of clinical work in private practice she pursued her research ambition at Karolinska University Hospital, Sweden, investigating walking and balance in children with neurological defects. Moving to Melbourne refocused her research interest to falls prevention in older people, with her doctoral dissertation investigating slipping risk during level walking. After 11 years as an academic lecturer of biomechanics, rehabilitation, and exercise physiology, Tuire joined HUR Australia in 2015. With her clinical, academic and research experience, she brings expertise in the design and implementation of best practice exercise solutions in rehabilitation and active ageing. Tuire has an active role in HUR education and is the producer of HUR Australia Newsletters. Tuire initiated HUR Australia Webinars that have reached a worldwide audience over 20 countries, collaborating with world leading researchers. on best practice for health and wellness for older people.
Research in health and ageing has shown strong evidence on the importance of exercise in slowing down ageing and keeping up quality of life. The benefits of inclusion of exercise at older age are clear; From prevention of falls and improvements in cognitive function to management of chronic diseases as well as increased longevity, exercise is a key aspect in improving health and wellness.
Four factors determine the individual’s health, and risk of disease: nutrition, lifestyle, environment, and genetics. If any of these is compromised, health is at risk and medical care could be required. Out of these elements, nutrition and lifestyle are modifiable factors that have a direct link between the choices and actions taken, the nutrition and activity level, and the health outcomes.
In the human body, proteins are the main structural components of cells and are responsible for many physiological tasks with the primary function of building and repairing cells. Almost half of the protein reserves in the body is stored in the skeletal muscle, the largest organ in the body accounting for around 40-45% of body mass, also being critical for both movement and metabolic functions. The average person can lose around 30-40% of their muscle mass between 20 and 80 years of age. This loss in muscle has been linked to almost all common chronic diseases and is also associated with e.g. an increased risk of falls, osteoporosis, fractures, cognitive impairment. frailty and loss in independence. It is therefore vital that strategies are implemented early to prevent muscle loss.
It is the combination of strength training and protein intake that is needed to stay healthy – protein is used to build muscles that then become protein reserves – the “banks” that can be accessed when called for to fight diseases and rebuild cells. Understanding that muscles could act as an immune organ by producing acute phase protective proteins, regular strength training might be a crucial preventive action to fight illness.
Past research has provided evidence for successful training protocols for both residential and community health practices. With an appropriate exercise plan, better health and functional outcomes can be gained also leading to cost savings in care. It is vital that measures are taken to include sufficient allied health and exercise services in community and residential health and care facilities to maximise the best health outcomes and quality of life to all.
Allied health and exercise therapy are essential for healthy ageing.