Background: Tissue healing is an intricate process that is regulated by circulation. Heat modalities have been shown to improve skin circulation. Recent research supports that passive vibration increases circulation without risk of burns. Study purpose is to compare and determine effects of short duration vibration, moist heat, and a combination of the two on skin blood flow (SBF) and skin temperature (ST) in elderly, non-diabetic individuals following short-term exposure.
Material/methods: Ten subjects, 3 female and 7 male (55-73 years of age), received two interventions over three days: 1--Active vibration, 2--passive vibration, 3--moist heat, 4--moist heat combined with passive vibration (MHPV), 5--a commercial massaging heating pad, and 6--no intervention. SBF and ST were measured using a MOOR Laser Doppler before and after the intervention and the third measurement were taken 10 minutes following.
Results: Mean SBF following a ten-minute intervention were significantly different in the combination of moist heat and passive vibration from the control, active vibration, and the commercial massaging heating pad. Compared to baseline measurements, this resulted in mean SBF elevation to 450% (at conclusion of 10 minutes of intervention) and 379% (10 minutes post). MHPV (p=0.02) showed significant changes in ST from the commercial massaging heating pad, passive vibration, and active vibration interventions.
Conclusions: SBF in the lower legs showed greatest increase with MHPV. Interventions should be selected that are low risk while increasing lower extremity skin blood flow.