Objective: To investigate the effects of whole body vibration in the elderly.
Design: Randomized controlled trial.
Setting: Nursing home.
Participants: Forty-two elderly volunteers.
Interventions: Six-week vibration intervention plus physical therapy (PT) (n=22) or PT alone (n=20).
Main outcome measures: We assessed gait and body balance using the Tinetti test (maximum scores of 12 for gait, 16 for body balance, 28 for global score), motor capacity using the Timed Up & Go (TUG) test, and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) using the Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36).
Results: After 6 weeks, the vibration intervention group improved by a mean +/- standard deviation of 2.4+/-2.3 points on the gait score compared with no score change in the control group ( P <.001). The intervention group improved by 3.5+/-2.1 points on the body balance score compared with a decrease of 0.3+/-1.2 points in the control group ( P <.001). TUG test time decreased by 11.0+/-8.6 seconds in the treated group compared with an increase of 2.6+/-8.8 seconds in the control group ( P <.001). The intervention group had significantly greater improvements from baseline on 8 of 9 items on the SF-36 compared with the control group.
Conclusions: Controlled whole body vibration can improve elements of fall risk and HRQOL in elderly patients.