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Therapist-assisted progressive resistance training, protein supplements, and testosterone injections in frail older men with testosterone deficiency: Protocol for a randomized placebo-controlled trial

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Background: Fall accidents are a major cause of mortality among the elderly and the leading cause of traumatic brain injury. After a fall, many elderly people never completely recover and need help in coping with everyday life. Due to the increasing older population in the world, injuries, disabilities, and deaths caused by falls are a growing worldwide problem. Muscle weakness leads to greatly increased risk of falling, decreased quality of life, and decline in functional capacity. Muscle mass and muscle power decrease about 40% from age 20 to 80 years, and the level of testosterone decreases with age and leads to impaired muscle mass. In addition, 20% of men older than 60 years—and 50% older than 80 years—have low levels of testosterone. Treatments after a fall are significant financial burdens on health and social care, and it is important to find treatments that can enhance function in the elderly people. Objective: The purpose of this study is to investigate whether testosterone and progressive resistance training alone or combined can improve muscle strength and reduce the risk of falls in older men. Additionally, we will examine whether such treatments can improve quality of life, functional capacity, including sexual function, and counteract depression. Methods: This is a randomized placebo-controlled, double-blind trial in which frail older men with testosterone deficiency are treated with testosterone supplemental therapy and therapist-assisted progressive resistance training for 20 weeks, with the possibility to continue treatment for 1 year. Four study arms of 48 participants each are provided based on factorial assignment to testosterone supplemental therapy and progressive resistance training. The 4 groups are as follows: controls given placebo injections without physical exercise for 20 weeks, testosterone-alone group given testosterone injections without physical exercise for 20 weeks, training-alone group given placebo injections for 20 weeks combined with 16 weeks of progressive strength training, and combination group given testosterone injections for 20 weeks combined with 16 weeks of progressive strength training. Performance in the 30-second chair stand test to measure improvement of general strength, balance, and power in lower extremities is the primary endpoint. Secondary endpoints comprising tests of cognition, muscle strength, and quality of life are applied before and after the training. Results: Funding was provided in October 2016. Results are expected to be available in 2020. Sample size was calculated to 152 participants divided into 4 equal-sized groups. Due to age, difficulty in transport, and the time-consuming intervention, up to 25% dropouts are expected; thus, we aim to include at least 192 participants. Conclusions: This investigation will evaluate the efficacy of testosterone supplemental therapy alone or combined with progressive resistance training. Additionally, improvements in quality of life and cognition are explored. Trial Registration: NCT02873559; (Archived by WebCite at

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere71
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018

    Research areas

  • Accidental falls, Aged, Exercise, Men, Testosterone, Therapeutics

ID: 56131834