Efficacy of focal mechanic vibration treatment on balance in Charcot-Marie-Tooth 1A disease: a pilot study

J Neurol. 2016 Jul;263(7):1434-41. doi: 10.1007/s00415-016-8157-5. Epub 2016 May 13.


Patients affected by Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease experience an impaired balance. Although the causes of the postural instability are not fully understood, somatosensory system seems to play a key role. Mechanical vibration seems to act on the somatosensory system and to improve its function. The aim of our study was to evaluate the effects of focal mechanical vibration (fMV) on the balance of CMT 1A patients. We enrolled 14 genetically confirmed CMT 1A patients (8 female and 6 male, mean age 492 years, range 32-74, mean duration of disease: 13 years, range 1-30). Patients underwent a 3-day fMV treatment on quadriceps and triceps surae and were evaluated before the treatment as well as 1 week and 1 month after the end of the treatment. The primary outcome measure was the Berg Balance Scale (BBS) and the secondary were the Dynamic Gait Index (DGI), the 6 Min Walking Test (6MWT), the muscular strength of lower limbs, the Quality of Life (QoL) questionnaire and the stabilometric variables. The statistical analysis showed a significant modification of the BBS due to the effect of treatment (p < 0.05). A significant modification was also found in the DGI (p < 0.05). Concerning the stabilometric variables we found significant changes only for the eyes closed condition; in particular, a significant decrease was found in VelocityML (p < 0.05) and Sway path length (p < 0.05). The fMV treatment applied on lower limbs of CMT 1A patients determined an improvement of balance as detected by the BBS. The concurrent improvement of stabilometric variables in the eyes closed condition only suggests that fMV acts mostly on somatosensory afferences. Further studies are needed to confirm these data on a larger sample of CMT patients.

Keywords: Balance; Berg balance scale; Charcot-Marie-Tooth; Focal mechanical vibration; Rehabilitation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease / complications*
  • Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Strength
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Postural Balance / physiology*
  • Quality of Life
  • Sensation Disorders / etiology*
  • Sensation Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vibration*