Whole-body vibration therapy has gained increasing popularity in enhancing neuromotor function in various patient populations. It remains uncertain, however, whether whole-body vibration is beneficial when used in stroke patients. The aim of this randomized controlled trial was to examine the efficacy of whole-body vibration in optimizing neuromotor performance and reducing falls in chronic stroke patients.Methods
Eighty-two chronic stroke patients were randomly assigned to either the experimental group or control group. The experimental group received 9–15 min of whole-body vibration (vertical vibration; frequency = 20–30 Hz. amplitude = 0.44–0.60 mm, peak acceleration = 9.5–15.8 m·s−2 or 0.97–1.61 U of Earth gravitational acceleration (g) while performing a variety of dynamic leg exercises on the vibration platform. The control group performed the same exercises without vibration. The subjects underwent their respective training three times a week for 8 wk. Balance (Berg balance scale), mobility (10-m walk test and 6-min walk test), knee muscle strength (isokinetic dynamometry), and fall-related self-efficacy (activities-specific balance confidence scale) were assessed at baseline, immediately after the 8-wk training and at a 1-month follow-up. The incidence of falls was recorded until 6 months after the termination of training.Results
Intention-to-treat analysis revealed similar significant improvement in all balance, mobility, muscle strength, and fall-related self-efficacy measures in both groups after the 8-wk treatment period (P < 0.001), and these were maintained at the 1-month follow-up. The incidence of falls did not differ significantly between the two groups (P > 0.05).Conclusions
The addition of the presently used whole-body vibration paradigm to a leg exercise protocol was no more effective in improving neuromotor performance and reducing the incidence of falls than leg exercises alone in chronic stroke patients who have mild to moderate motor impairments.