Table 15: Muscle Vibration Interventions post-SCI

Author Year


Research Design


Total Sample Size

Methods Outcome

Gomes-Osman & Field-Fote 2015


Crossover RCT


Population: Mean Age: 43.7 yr; Gender: males=21, females=3; Injury etiology: Motor Vehicle Accident=17, Diving=2, Non-traumatic=1, Unspecified=4; Severity of Injury: AIS C=9, AIS D=11, Unspecified=4; Level of Injury: C4=1, C5=4, C6=10, C7=5.

Intervention: Patients received three types of stimulation in a randomized order; transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), and vibration therapy. Both TNS and vibration therapy was performed on the volar aspect of the wrist. tDCS was performed on the primary left/right motor area and on the contralateral supraorbital area. During each condition, the patients engaged in functional task practice. The intervention was provided once for each condition with a 1 wk break between each. Assessments were conducted at baseline, post-treatment and at 30 min post treatment.

Outcome Measures: Nine-hole Peg Test (9HPT), pinch strength, Corticomotor excitability/motor-evoked potentials, Visuomotor tracking task.

1.     Results on the 9HPT improved significantly from baseline to post treatment after patients received TENS (p=0.003) and tDCS (p=0.05) with improvements maintained from baseline to 30 min post treatment (p<0.001 and p=0.003 respectively).

2.     Vibration therapy did not significantly change from baseline to post treatment or 30 min post treatment.

3.     Pinch strength significantly improved from baseline to post treatment after vibration therapy only (p=0.03). At 30 min post treatment, patients demonstrated improved pinch strength after both vibration therapy (p=0.03) and tDCS (p=0.005) compared to baseline.

4.     Visuomotor tracking did not improve from baseline to post treatment for any of the conditions. Only tDCS improved from baseline to 30 min post treatment (p=0.05).

5.     Corticomotor excitability improved

significantly from baseline to post treatment after TENS (p=0.003) only but at 30 min post treatment, only vibration therapy demonstrated a significant improvement compared to baseline (p=0.006).

Effect Sizes: Forest plot of standardized mean differences (SMD±95%C.I.) as calculated from pre- and post-intervention data.

Backus et al. 2014




Population: Mean age: 40.5±13.0 yr; Gender: males=8, females=2; Level of injury: C2-C3=3, C4-C7=7; Mean ASIA motor score: 15.8±3.9; Mean time since injury: 3.0±1.1 yr.

Intervention: Test effect of assisted movement with enhanced sensation (AMES) using vibration to antagonist muscle to reduce impairments and restore upper limb function in people with incomplete tetraplegia. Two or three sessions over 9-13 wk per participant.

Outcome Measures: Strength and active motion tests on the AMES device, International Standards for the Neurological Classification of SCI (ISNCSCI) motor and sensory examinations, Modified Ashworth Scale (MAS), grasp and release test (GRT), Van Lieshout Test (VLT), Capabilities of Upper Extremity questionnaire (CUE).

1.     No significant change in MAS scores (p=0.371) or ISNCSCI scores (p=0.299 for motor, p=0.459 for sensory-light tough, p=0.343 for sensory-pin prick).

2.     Strength test scores increased significantly for MCP extension (p≤0.01) and flexion (p≤0.05) and for wrist extension (p≤0.001) and flexion (p≤0.01).

3.     Active motion test scores increased significantly for MCP joints (p≤0.001) and wrist (p≤0.001).

4.     Out of GRT, VLT and CUE scores, only GRT scores were significantly improved after training and slightly between post treatment and 3-mo post treatment (p=0.025).