Background: Fatigue, lack of motivation and low compliance can be observed in nursing home residents during the practice of physical activity. Because exercises should not be too vigorous, whole body vibration could potentially be an effective alternative. The objective of this randomized controlled trial was to assess the impact of 3-month training by whole body vibration on the risk of falls among nursing home residents.
Methods: Patients were randomized into two groups: the whole body vibration group which received 3 training sessions every week composed of 5 series of only 15 seconds of vibrations at 30 Hz frequency and a control group with normal daily life for the whole study period. The impact of this training on the risk of falls was assessed blindly by three tests: the Tinetti Test, the Timed Up and Go test and a quantitative evaluation of a 10-second walk performed with a tri-axial accelerometer.
Results: 62 subjects (47 women and 15 men; mean age 83.2 ± 7.99 years) were recruited for the study. No significant change in the studied parameters was observed between the treated (n=31) and the control group (n=31) after 3 months of training by controlled whole-body-vibrations. Actually, the Tinetti test increased of + 0.93 ± 3.14 points in the treated group against + 0.88 ± 2.33 points in the control group (p = 0.89 when adjusted). The Timed Up and Go test showed a median evolution of - 1.14 (- 4.75-3.73) seconds in the treated group against + 0.41 (- 3.57- 2.41) seconds in the control group (p = 0.06). For the quantitative evaluation of the walk, no significant change was observed between the treated and the control group in single task as well as in dual task conditions.
Conclusions: The whole body vibration training performed with the exposition settings such as those used in this research was feasible but seems to have no impact on the risk of falls among nursing home residents. Further investigations, in which, for example, the exposure parameters would be changed, seem necessary.
Trial registration number: NCT01759680.