Focal muscle vibration as a possible intervention to prevent falls in elderly women: a pragmatic randomized controlled trial

Aging Clin Exp Res. 2015 Dec;27(6):857-63. doi: 10.1007/s40520-015-0356-x. Epub 2015 Apr 8.


Backgrounds: Different and new approaches have been proposed to prevent the risk of falling of elderly people, particularly women.

Aims: This study investigates the possibility that a new protocol based on the focal mechanical muscle vibration may reduce the risk of falling of elderly women.

Methods: A pragmatic randomized controlled triple-blind trial with a 6-month follow-up after intervention randomized 350 women (mean age 73.4 years + 3.11), members of local senior citizen centers in Rome, into two groups: vibrated group (VG) and control group (CG). For VG participants a mechanical vibration (lasting 10 min) was focally applied on voluntary contracted quadriceps muscles, three times a day during three consecutive days. CG subjects received a placebo vibratory stimulation. Subjects were tested immediately before (T0) and 30 (T1) and 180 (T2) days after the intervention with the Performance-Oriented Mobility Assessment (POMA) test. All subjects were asked not to change their lifestyle during the study. CG underwent sham vibratory treatment.

Results: While CG did not show any statistically significant change of POMA at T1 and T2, VG revealed significant differences. At T2, ≈47% of the subjects who completed the study obtained the full score on the POMA test and ≈59% reached the full POMA score.

Conclusions: The new protocol seems to be promising in reducing the risk of falling of elderly subjects.

Keywords: Fall; Muscle vibration; Performance-Oriented Mobility Assessment; Postural instability; Rehabilitation; Tinetti test.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control*
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment / methods
  • Humans
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Postural Balance*
  • Quadriceps Muscle / physiology
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vibration / therapeutic use*