Published online Nov 18, 2010. doi: 10.5312/wjo.v1.i1.20
Revised: November 5, 2010
Accepted: November 12, 2010
Published online: November 18, 2010
Due to various physical impairments, individuals with chronic diseases often live a sedentary lifestyle, which leads to physical de-conditioning. The associated muscle weakness, functional decline and bone loss also render these individuals highly susceptible to falls and fragility fractures. There is an urgent need to search for safe and effective intervention strategies to prevent fragility fractures by modifying the fall-related risk factors and enhancing bone health. Whole body vibration (WBV) therapy has gained popularity in rehabilitation in recent years. In this type of treatment, mechanical vibration is delivered to the body while the individual is standing on an oscillating platform. As mechanical loading is one of the most powerful stimuli to induce osteogenesis, it is proposed that the mechanical stress applied to the human skeleton in WBV therapy might be beneficial for enhancing bone mass. Additionally, the vibratory signals also constitute a form of sensory stimulation and can induce reflex muscle activation, which could potentially induce therapeutic effects on muscle strength and important sensorimotor functions such as postural control. Increasing research evidence suggests that WBV is effective in enhancing hip bone mineral density, muscle strength and balance ability in elderly patients, and could have potential for individuals with chronic diseases, who often cannot tolerate vigorous impact or resistance exercise training. This article aims to discuss the potential role of WBV therapy in the prevention of fragility fractures among people with chronic diseases.