Purpose: Individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI) often have involuntary, reflex-evoked muscle activity resulting in spasticity. Vibration may modulate reflex activity thereby decreasing spasticity. This study suggests feasibility of using whole-body vibration (WBV) to decrease quadriceps spasticity in individuals with SCI.
Methods: Participants were individuals (n=16) with spastic quadriceps hypertonia due to chronic SCI (> 1 year). Quadriceps spasticity was measured by gravity-provoked stretch (Pendulum Test) before (initial) and after (final) a 3 day/week, 12-session WBV intervention. In addition, differences between immediate (immediate post-WBV) and delayed (delayed post-WBV) within-session effects were quantified. Finally, we assessed response differences between subjects who did and those who did not use antispastic agents.
Results: There was a significant reduction in quadriceps spasticity after participation in a WBV intervention that persisted for at least eight days. Within a WBV session, spasticity was reduced in the delayed post-WBV test compared to the immediate post-WBV test. The WBV intervention was associated with similar changes in quadriceps spasticity in subjects who did and those who did not use antispastic agents.
Conclusions: Vibration may be a useful adjunct to training in those with spasticity. Future studies should directly compare the antispastic effects of vibration to those of antispastic agents.