Introduction: Stochastic resonance whole-body vibration (SR-WBV) devices are promising sensorimotor interventions to address muscle weakness and to improve balance and mobility particularly in the elderly. However, it remains inconclusive whether individuals with stroke or traumatic brain injury (TBI) can profit from this method. The aim of this prospective single-blind randomized controlled trial was to investigate the effects of SR-WBV on muscle strength as well as gait and balance performance in this population.
Methods: Forty-eight individuals with stroke or TBI were randomly allocated to an experimental and a sham group. Participants were exposed daily to 5 consecutives 1-minute SR-WBV sessions, whereas the experimental group trained in a standing position with 5 Hz and the sham group in a seated position with 1 Hz. Isometric muscle strength properties of the paretic knee extensor muscles as well as balance and gait performance were measured at baseline, after the first session and after two weeks of SR-WBV.
Results: Both groups showed short- and long-term effects in gait performance. However, no between-group effects could be found at the three measurement points.
Discussion: Complementary SR-WBV showed no beneficial effects immediately after the intervention and after two weeks of conventional rehabilitation therapy. Future research is needed to identify the potential efficacy of SR-WBV in individuals with stroke and TBI using shorter and less exhausting test procedures and a generally prolonged intervention time.