Whole body vibration therapy (WBV) involves standing, or doing exercises, on a vibrating platform. Research in the general population suggests that the benefits of exercise are achieved in less time when using vibration therapy.
There has been little research into vibration therapy in multiple sclerosis, often trials have been small and the methods have been varied – some used vibration alone, in other studies exercises were carried out on the vibrating platform. Often there was no control group.
Results from these studies have been mixed. Some studies suggest that regular sessions may improve lower limb strength and mobility. Other positive effects were seen on core strength, fatigue, mood, coordination, balance and in one study on preventing falls. Better effects were typically seen in those people with MS who had lower levels of disability. However, several studies suggest that exercising using a vibrating platform is no more effective than exercise alone.
A small pilot study in Glasgow was supported by the MS Trust. Twelve people with MS took part in a series of exercise sessions, both with and without vibrations, over three months. The results showed similar small improvements after both exercise alone and exercise with whole body vibration. People in the trial had fewer spasms at night, better sleep, found it easier to climb stairs and had better feeling in their feet.
Whole body vibration could be of benefit for some people with MS, but larger, better-designed trials are needed to learn more about its role in MS.