Background: Whole-body vibration (WBV) has been used in older adults to improve bone health and neuromuscular function, and may have potential applications for stroke patients.
Aim: To investigate the effects of WBV on bone turnover, leg muscle strength, motor function, and spasticity among chronic stroke patients.
Design: Randomized controlled trial (RCT).
Population: Eighty-two chronic stroke patients.
Methods: The experimental group underwent exercise training with WBV stimulation for a maximum of 15 minutes, 3 days per week for 8 weeks. The controls received the same exercises without WBV. Participants were evaluated for isokinetic knee muscle strength, serum levels of bone formation and resorption markers, spasticity and motor function of the paretic leg at baseline, immediately after the 8-week training period, and 1-month follow-up.
Results: Intention-to-treat analysis revealed no significant changes in levels of bone turnover markers and motor function of the paretic leg over time in both groups. Muscle strength outcomes showed no significant group×time interaction, with similar significant improvements found in both groups. Spasticity of the paretic knee was significantly reduced in the experimental group (P=0.005), but not in controls (P=0.465). No serious adverse events were reported.
Conclusion: The WBV protocol used in this study did not induce additional effects on bone turnover, knee muscle strength and paretic leg motor function among chronic stroke patients. WBV may have potential to modulate spasticity, but this requires further investigation.
Clinical rehabilitation impact: More study on WBV is required before it can be recommended as an adjunct treatment in rehabilitation of chronic stroke patients.