Effects of a whole body vibration (WBV) exercise intervention for institutionalized older people: a randomized, multicentre, parallel, clinical trial

Mercè Sitjà-Rabert, Ma José Martínez-Zapata, Azahara Fort Vanmeerhaeghe, Ferran Rey Abella, Daniel Romero-Rodríguez, Xavier Bonfill
Journal of the American Medical Directors Association 2015, 16 (2): 125-31

OBJECTIVES: To assess the efficacy of an exercise program on a whole-body vibration platform (WBV) in improving body balance and muscle performance and preventing falls in institutionalized elderly people.

DESIGN/SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: A multicentre randomized parallel assessor-blinded clinical trial was conducted in elderly persons living in nursing homes.

INTERVENTIONS: Participants were randomized to an exercise program performed either on a whole body vibratory platform (WBV plus exercise group) or on a stationary surface (exercise group). The exercise program for both groups consisted of static and dynamic exercises (balance and strength training over a 6-week training period of 3 sessions per week). The frequency applied on the vibratory platform was 30 to 35 Hz and amplitude was 2 to 4 mm.

MEASUREMENTS: The primary outcome measurement was static/dynamic body balance. Secondary outcomes were muscle strength and number of falls. Efficacy was analyzed on an intention-to-treat basis and per protocol. The effects of the intervention were evaluated using the t test, Mann-Whitney test, or chi-square test, depending on the type of outcome. Follow-up measurements were collected 6 weeks and 6 months after randomization.

RESULTS: A total of 159 participants from 10 centers were included: 81 in the WBV plus exercise group and 78 in the control group. Mean age was 82 years, and 67.29% were women. The Tinetti test score showed a significant overall improvement in both groups (P < .001). No significant differences were found between groups at week 6 (P = .890) or month 6 (P = .718). The Timed Up and Go test did not improve (P = .599) in either group over time, and no significant differences were found between groups at week 6 (P = .757) or month 6 (P = .959). Muscle performance results from the 5 Sit-To-Stand tests improved significantly across time (P = .001), but no statistically significant differences were found between groups at week 6 (P = .709) or month 6 (P = .841). A total of 57 falls (35.8%) were recorded during the follow-up period, with no differences between groups (P = .406).

CONCLUSION: Exercise program on a vibratory platform provides benefits similar to those with exercise program on a stationary surface in relation to body balance, gait, functional mobility, and muscle strength in institutionalized elderly people. Longer studies in larger samples are needed to assess falls.


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