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Effects of vibration therapy in multiple sclerosis patients

03rd January 2016

Multiple sclerosis affects 1 in 1000 people, the causes of this chronic autoimmune disease being unknown.

Attributed to an abnormal response of the immune system to bacteria or viruses, MS is a condition that affects the central nervous system, destroying the myelin sheaths that wrap around nerve fibers. As this happens, a scar tissue called sclerosis forms, and the functioning of nervous cells is affected.

Usually occurring between the ages of 20 and 40 and affecting both sexes, multiple sclerosis can severely decrease one’s quality of life and life expectancy. There is no permanent cure for this ailment but there are treatments that can help one manage their symptoms, while slowing down the ailment’s progression.

One of these treatments is strength training, which may be a valid solution for improving the mobility and muscle strength of people affected by multiple sclerosis. There are several studies that show that both whole body vibration exercises and conventional resistance training can help in strengthening the muscles and improving functional capacity of MS sufferers, so if you don’t own a vibration machine, you can still experience positive effects from classical rehabilitation programs.

Danish scientists from the University of Aarhus found that 12 weeks of resistance training can improve muscle strength and functional capacity in people affected by this condition, the effects persisting after 12 weeks of self-guided physical activity.


However, conventional strength exercises can be painful and stressful for MS patients, who struggle with symptoms like numbness and tingling in the limbs, weakness in one or more limbs, loss of balance and vision problems. Coordination problems, fatigue, increased heat sensitivity and sudden paralysis may also be experienced, so it’s easy to understand why conventional forms of exercise may be exhausting for these patients.

Vibration training on the other hand has the advantage of being a low-impact activity and requires less effort from the patient, being a safe and convenient way to stay active for MS sufferers. A systematic review conducted by researchers from the Universidade do Estado, Rio de Janeiro showed that whole body vibration may help in strengthening the muscles, and improving the functional mobility of patients with multiple sclerosis.

Also, Finish scientists from the Tampere University Medical School showed that vibration therapy may improve walking endurance in MS patients, and Irish scientists from the University of Limerick showed that vibration exercises provide similar effects to conventional rehabilitation exercises in people with multiple sclerosis.

Researchers from the Islamic Azad University showed that 8 weeks of progressive resistance training and vibration exercises can improve the muscle strength and functional capacity of MS sufferers. Participants performed 3 weekly training sessions, doing 5-12 reps of voluntary contractions, followed by 5-10 minutes of rest and 6 vibration exercises.

Finally, Belgian researchers found that 3 weeks of vibration workouts can lead to significant improvements in muscle strength in MS patients, but their study showed no improvements in functionality.

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