The effect of whole body vibration on balance, mobility and falls in older adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Maturitas. 2012 Jul;72(3):206-13. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2012.04.009. Epub 2012 May 18.


This systematic review aimed to examine the effect of WBV on balance, mobility and falls among older adults. The databases used included MEDLINE, the Excerpta Medica database, the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, the Cochrane Library Databases of Systematic Reviews, Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro), PubMed, and Science Citation Index (last search in October 2011). Randomized controlled trials that investigated the effect of WBV on balance, mobility or falls in older adults were included in this review. The PEDro score was used to examine the methodological quality of the selected studies. The effect of WBV on balance, mobility and fall-related outcomes were extracted. The data extraction and rating were performed by a researcher and the results were confirmed by the principal investigator. Meta-analysis was done if 3 or more studies measured the same outcome of interest. Among 920 articles screened, fifteen articles (thirteen trials) satisfied the criteria and were included in this review. Methodological quality was good for six of the studies (PEDro score=6-7). Meta-analysis revealed that WBV has a significant treatment effect in Tinetti Total Score (p<0.001), Tinetti Body Balance Score (p=0.010) and Timed-Up-and-Go test (p=0.004). No significant improvement was noted in Tinetti Gait Score after WBV training (p=0.120). The effect of WBV on other balance/mobility outcomes and fall rate remains inconclusive. To conclude, WBV may be effective in improving relatively basic balance ability and mobility among older adults, particularly frailer ones. More good-quality WBV trials are required.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control*
  • Aged
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Frail Elderly
  • Gait
  • Humans
  • Mobility Limitation*
  • Movement*
  • Muscle Strength
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Postural Balance*
  • Vibration*