About Dr Rhonda Orr

Rhonda Orr's research passion is centred on two areas, drugs in sport and exercise in the elderly. Dr. Orr is strongly motivated to improve anti-doping education in athletes and to improve the health and physical function of older adults.

Rhonda investigates issues of drugs in sport, particularly knowledge and attitudes to anti-doping in athletes and the performance effects of caffeine, as well as the benefits of resistance and vibration exercise in health, muscle function and bone morphology in older adults.

Dr Orr is a registered pharmacist and exercise physiologist. She has integrated her research expertise in the areas of exercise/sport pharmacology and exercise interventions, specifically resistance (strength and power) training and whole body vibration training. These interventions have been applied to a variety of populations, from athletic to children and older adults both healthy and frail, with multiple comorbidities and those with clinical conditions. She has conducted a number of randomized controlled trials involving children and older adults.

Dr Orr's research into the effects of caffeine on athletic performance has shown novel results. The administration of caffeine before and during performance has revealed novel results that dividing the caffeine dose resulted no reduction in performance benefits but substantially lowered post- exercise urinary caffeine levels, compared with a single larger dose. The recent grant awarded by the Anti-Doping Research Program has enabled research to progress to evaluating the knowledge of, and attitudes and behaviours of elite athletes and coaches to prohibited substances and anti-doping policy in Australia.

Clinical research has investigated the relationships between balance and muscle function, bone density and morphology, physical capacity, functional performance, body composition, and psychosocial function in healthy elderly following the relatively novel exercise modalities of power training and whole body vibration training. Power training has been shown to improve balance in older adults. Vibration training has demonstrated modest improvements in muscle strength in senior adults and reduction in bone loss markers in post menopausal women. Dr Orr has published in international high impact factor journals and is invited as a peer reviewer of a number of these journals. Her commitment to research mentoring is evidenced by her supervision of Honours and Phd students.

In addition, Dr Orr is the Undergraduate Course Director for the B Appl Sc (Exercise and Sport Science) degree and has taught extensively across both the undergraduate and postgraduate courses. She has developed curriculum and co-ordinated over 10 units of study with in these courses.

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Selected publications

• Mikhael M, Orr R and Fiatarone Singh. The effect of whole body vibration exposure on muscle or bone morphology and function in older adults: a systematic review of the literature. Maturitas. 2010; 66(2):150-157

• de Vos NJ, Singh NA, Ross DA, Stavrinos TM, Orr R, and Fiatarone Singh MA. The Effect of Explosive Resistance Training on the Contribution of Force and Velocity to Peak Power Generation in Older Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity. 2008; 16(4): 393-407

• de Vos NJ, Singh NA, Ross DA, Stavrinos TM, Orr R, and Fiatarone Singh MA. Acute Hemodynamic Response to Maximal Dynamic Strength Testing in Older Adults. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 2008; 89(2): 343-350.

• Orr R, Raymond J, and Fiatarone Singh MA. Efficacy of Progressive Resistance Training on Balance Performance in Older Adults: A Systematic Review. Sports Medicine. 2008; 38(4): 317-343.

• Tsang T, Orr R, Lam P, Comino E and Fiatarone Singh MA. Effects of Tai Chi on Glucose Homeostasis and Insulin Sensitivity in Older Adults with Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized Double-Blind Sham-Exercise-Controlled Trial. Age and Ageing. 2008; 37(1): 64-71; doi: 10.1093/ageing/afm127

• Tsang T, Orr R, Lam P, Comino E and Fiatarone Singh MA. Health Benefits of Tai Chi for Older Patients with Type 2 Diabetes: The "Move It for Diabetes Study" - A randomized controlled trial. Clinical Investigations in Aging. 2007; 2(3):429-439.

• Orr R, Tsang T, Lam P, Comino E, Singh MF: Mobility Impairment in Type 2 Diabetes: Association with Muscle Power and Effect of Tai Chi intervention. Diabetes Care. 2006; 29(9):2120-2122.

• Orr R, de Vos NJ, Singh NA, Ross DA, Stavrinos TM, and Fiatarone Singh MA. Power Training Improves Balance in Healthy Older Adults. The Journals of Gerontology: Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences. 2006; 61A(1):78-85.

• de Vos NJ, Singh NA, Ross DA, Stavrinos TM, Orr R, and Fiatarone Singh MA. Optimal Load for Increasing Muscle Power during Explosive Resistance Training in Older Adults. The Journals of Gerontology: Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences. 2005; 60A(5):638-647.

• Orr R and Fiatarone Singh MA. The Anabolic Androgenic Steroid Oxandrolone in the Treatment of Wasting and Catabolic Disorders. Review of Efficacy and Safety. Drugs. 2004; 64(7):725-750.

• Conway KJ, Orr R, and Stannard SR. Effect of divided caffeine dose on endurance performance, post-exercise urinary caffeine levels and plasma paraxanthine. Journal of Applied Physiology. 2003; 94(4):1557-1562.