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[Study] Whole body vibration exercises normalize muscle tone and function in kids with cerebral palsy

27th January 2015
wbv cerebral palsy

The term cerebral palsy (CP) is used to define a number of conditions that affect the control of movement due to brain damage. Usually occurring in kids aged 2 to 3, CP is a non-progressive disorder, which means that the damage of the affected brain areas does not get worse throughout life, although the symptoms often change over time.

About 1 in 400 kids is born with this disorder, the most common cause being a brain abnormality or damage caused before, during, or shortly after birth. Infections caught by pregnant women, premature birth, genetic mutations that affect the development of the nervous system, or brain hemorrhages can trigger CP.

One of the most common causes of childhood disability, this disorder manifests differently depending on the brain area that is affected, but there are some symptoms that occur in all patients. Given that CP affects muscle tone, movement, and motor skills, kids suffering from this disorder will have weak and stiff muscles, will have balance and coordination problems, and may also experience uncontrolled body movements.

The degree of disability varies from one patient to another; if the brain damage is limited, the condition comes with mild impairments, but if the damage is extensive, symptoms can be more severe.

visual impairments, hearing loss, speech problems, gastroesophageal reflux, sleep problems, weak and brittle bones, tooth decay and blindness can accompany cerebral palsy. Also, in patients with severe forms of CP, seizures, speech problems and mental retardation can be present, and ongoing therapy along with braces or wheelchairs may be required.

The symptoms usually become visible in the first 3-5 years of life, kids with CP having a slower development and problems in learning how to speak, crawl or walk. Since the ailment is not progressive, the life expectancy is usually unaffected, but the quality of life can be significantly reduced and patients may find it difficult to develop normal social relationships.

Cerebral palsy cannot be cured, but physiotherapy, occupational therapy, medications, and in some cases surgery may help patients improve their motor skills and live an independent life.

Whole body vibration found to be effective in kids with CP

Proven to be effective in a series of disorders that affect the musculoskeletal system, whole body vibration therapy seems to be a safe and convenient solution for children with cerebral palsy as well.

According to a study published in the journal of Research in Developmental Disabilities, 8 weeks of WBV therapy, with 3 whole body vibration sessions per week (10min/session), can improve muscle tone, the active joint range and ambulatory performance in kids affected by this disorder.

The study was conducted by researchers at the College of Medicine, Chang Gung University, Taiwan, and included 16 participants, half of them receiving WBV therapy followed by a 4-weak break and sham therapy, while the other half received the same treatment but in reverse order.

Results of this study showed that vibration training can serve as a safe alternative to conventional physical therapy for patients with CP, in both home and clinical settings.

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