Whole-body vibration and rehabilitation of chronic diseases: A review of the literature
The objectives of the study were to review the current literature and findings on the effects of whole-body vibration (WBV) as a training method on performance and its ability to aid in the rehabilitation of chronic diseases (neurological, musculoskeletal or metabolic conditions). Six electronic databases were searched. The combination of the search terminology used included WBV and several neurological, musculoskeletal and metabolic conditions. Twenty six papers were found to be relevant for this review and were included for critical evaluation with regards to sample characteristics, research intervention and methodology. Most studies were conducted on patients diagnosed with neurological conditions (n = 15) while less were performed on patients suffering from musculoskeletal (n = 7) or metabolic (n = 4) disorders. Comparisons were difficult to draw on because of the different pathologies and the differences in the methodology of each study. Some of the observed methodological flaws included limitations in relation to insufficient randomisation, lack of sample homogeneity (size, age variability) and poor blinding in most studies. No consensus could be reached as to whether WBV is more effective than other interventions or no intervention at all, while the additional effects that WBV may have in relation to other interventions could not be assumed. Nevertheless, chronic WBV training seems to only improve strength in neurological patients while balance and mobility improves only in patients suffering from musculoskeletal or metabolic but not from neurological conditions. Although WBV did not prove to be more effective compared to other training methods, it can be used, in some cases, as a less fatiguing and less time-consuming method to enhance physical capabilities. Future research should focus on the effectiveness of WBV in relation to no treatment at all, and to age.