Osteoporosis sufferers could soon have sheep to thank for new types of therapy. Scientists have demonstrated how even gentle, but regular, shaking of the limbs can ward off the weakening of the bones associated with the disease. The researchers showed this by mechanically stimulating the hind legs of adult sheep for 20 minutes every day for a year, by standing them on a vibrating platform. By the end of the study, the density of spongy bone in the animals' thighs was 34% higher than in sheep not receiving the treatment.
Osteoporosis reduces the density and quality of bone, leading to weakness of the skeleton and an increased risk of fracture. The bones most at risk are the vertebrae, wrist, hip and pelvis. In the UK alone, one in three women and one in 12 men are thought to be affected by the disease.
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