The primary purpose of this study was to systematically examine the effects of an 8-week controlled whole-body vibration training on reducing the risk of falls among community-dwelling adults. Eighteen healthy elderlies received vibration training which was delivered on a side alternating vibration platform in an intermittent way: five repetitions of 1 min vibration followed by a 1 min rest. The vibration frequency and amplitude were 20 Hz and 3.0mm respectively. The same training was repeated 3 times a week, and the entire training lasted for 8 weeks for a total of 24 training sessions. Immediately prior to (or pre-training) and following (or post-training) the 8-week training course, all participants' risk of falls were evaluated in terms of body balance, functional mobility, muscle strength and power, bone density, range of motion at lower limb joints, foot cutaneous sensation level, and fear of falling. Our results revealed that the training was able to improve all fall risk factors examined with moderate to large effect sizes ranging between 0.55 and 1.26. The important findings of this study were that an 8-week vibration training could significantly increase the range of motion of ankle joints on the sagittal plane (6.4° at pre-training evaluation vs. 9.6° at post-training evaluation for dorsiflexion and 45.8° vs. 51.9° for plantar-flexion, p<0.05 for both); reduce the sensation threshold of the foot plantar surface (p<0.05); and lower the fear of falling (12.2 vs. 10.8, p<0.05). These findings could provide guidance to design optimal whole-body vibration training paradigm for fall prevention among older adults.
Keywords: Cutaneous sensation; Fall prevention; Fear of falling; Hip fracture; Physical medicine; Range of motion; Side-alternating vibration.
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