Background: Circulation plays an essential role in tissue healing. Moist heat and warm water immersion have been shown to increase skin circulation; however, these heating modalities can cause burns. Recent research has shown that passive vibration can also increase circulation but without the risk of burns.
Material/methods: The aim of this study is to compare the effects of short-duration vibration, moist heat, and a combination of the two on skin blood flow (SBF) and skin temperature (ST). Ten (10) subjects, 5 female and 5 male, aged 20-30 years of age, received two interventions a day for 3 consecutive days: Intervention 1--Active vibration only (vibration exercise), Intervention 2--passive vibration only, Intervention 3--moist heat only, Intervention 4--passive vibration combined with moist heat, Intervention 5--a commercial massaging heating pad, and Intervention 6--no intervention, resting in supine only (control). SBF and ST were measured using a laser Doppler imager during the 10 minute intervention and then throughout the nine minute recovery period.
Results: The mean skin blood flow following a ten-minute intervention of the combination of passive vibration and moist heat was significantly different from the control, active vibration, and the commercial massaging heating pad. Skin temperature following the ten-minute interventions of moist heat alone and passive vibration alone were both significantly different from the commercial massaging heating pad and active vibration interventions.
Conclusions: The combination of passive vibration and moist heat produced the greatest increase in skin blood flow and the second highest increase in skin blood flow nine minutes post application.