A recent report demonstrated the potential benefits of WBV administered for 3 minutes a day for 12 sessions over a 4-week period (Ness & Field-Fote 2009). Following this training period, the authors reported a mean improvement in walking speed of 0.062 m/s, which although statistically significant, was considered a small effect size. Training was also associated with an increase in cadence and hip-knee inter-joint coordination. Although whole-body vibration has been introduced for other neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, this is the first report to demonstrate the potential benefits of whole-body vibration in the SCI population. Another study has since shown the potential benefits of WBV through improvements in muscle force output and sit-to-stand function (Bosveld & Field-Fote, 2015).
Another study investigated the physiological effects of whole body vibration in persons with SCI (Herrero et al. 2010), suggesting possible mechanisms of how WBV could be beneficial for lower limb function (not presented in table due to lack of functional or behavioural results). The authors showed that peak blood flow in the femoral artery increased with higher vibration frequencies (20 or 30 Hz), and that muscle activity increased regardless of frequency. This suggests that incorporating whole body vibration to rehabilitation programs could benefit persons with SCI by promoting circulation in the legs and increasing muscle activation.
There is Level 1 evidence that WBV improves muscle force output and Sit to Stand test scores (Bosveld & Field-Fote, 2015) though neither of these differences was significant.
- There is limited evidence that whole body vibration improves walking function in incomplete SCI but stronger evidence that it could improve muscle force output.