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Effects of Vibration Therapy for Cerebral Palsy

19th January 2022
vibration therapy implications in cerebral palsy

Cerebral palsy (CP) is among the most prevalent motor disabilities in children worldwide. Even though the harm to the brain is considered to be non-progressive, the condition is associated with muscle spasticity, suboptimal motor control, poor body balance, and physical weakness. For that reason, kids with cerebral palsy are unable to engage in optimal amounts of exercise, for them to improve physical strength and musculoskeletal function.

Lately, scientists have discovered a promising method for tackling kids’ inability to perform a normal exercise. It is referred to as vibration therapy (VT). The exercise is also known as whole-body vibration (WBV) and uses a body vibration plate as a medium. The scientific evidence has shown that VT improves neuroplasticity, increases muscle contractions, accelerates brain-muscle neural communication, and leads to bigger muscle strength.

Is vibration therapy safe for children?

So far whole-body vibration has been proven to benefit more or less every area of the human body. Increased bone mineral density, stronger muscles, improved blood circulation, faster metabolism, accelerated physical recovery, and reduced body weight, are just some of the benefits. But is vibration therapy associated with the same benefits among children? And more specifically is the activity safe for them?

Exercise, in all of its various forms, is great for children, and parents should always encourage their kids to engage in regular physical activities. But how about body vibration exercise? Even though WBV differs from conventional exercise, it is still beneficial and more importantly safe for children to engage with. That includes healthy youngsters and according to this study – children with certain disabilities, such as CP.

According to scientific evidence, body vibration is entirely safe for children, making it an ideal form of exercise for little ones. Furthermore, clinicians have discovered that WBV is particularly helpful for kids who are not able to perform conventional physical activity, which is the case with cerebral palsy, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and spina bifida.

Can kids use body vibration machines?

Let’s face it – we live in an obesogenic environment. Nearly half of the adult population and a third of the youngsters in the US are overweight or obese. Unhealthy eating, longer working hours, and lack of physical activity are just some of the major contributing factors. Adults spent more time in front of the TV and less time exercising. What is even worse is the fact that kids grow up copying their parents’ habits, with the ultimate result being a never-ending vicious cycle.

This is why kids should be encouraged to engage in regular exercise as much as possible, and from as an early age as possible. Swimming, cycling, tennis, or even gardening are some excellent examples. Another great example is the whole-body vibration. Indeed, the activity offers numerous health benefits, but is it suitable for our little ones? According to scientific data, the answer to this question is “Yes!”.

Parents need to understand that WBV is simply another form of physical activity, suitable for more or less every age group. What is even more, the exercise comes with several additional benefits when compared to conventional physical activity – it is safer, less impactful, and requires half the time needed to perform a regular exercise. Just like an adult, the kids can start from a lower intensity and increase the settings as they progress.

How does whole-body vibration reduce spasticity?

can vibration therapy reduce spasticity
Cerebral palsy is a condition that is associated with poor posture and movement difficulties. As already mentioned, the syndrome appears in an early life stage and is one of the most common reasons for disabilities among kids. It has been estimated that 17 million people across the globe live with cerebral palsy, with another 350 million people being closely related to a kid or adult suffering from CP.

The CP syndrome comes in various forms, but the most common one is known as spastic cerebral palsy or spasticity. Spastic CP comes in three sub-forms, namely spastic diplegia (SD), spastic hemiplegia (SH), and spastic quadriplegia (SQ), and is characterized by muscle weakness, muscle tone disbalance, muscle atrophy, joint deformity, and abnormal tissue contractures. Children with the condition have restricted physical capabilities, walk at a lesser speed and expend more energy for the same movements, compared to their healthy peers.

Recent studies, such as this one, have indicated that vibration therapy is particularly helpful in reducing spasticity. The activity has been found to increase muscle strength in lower limbs, decrease spasticity of the knee muscles, boost power force and velocity, and improve the isometric strength of the quadriceps femoris muscles. Thanks to its true essence, WBV exercise results in favorable neuromuscular adaptations that are similar to the outcomes delivered by resisting training.

Are vibration plates good for kids?

When it comes to physical activities for kids, boredom is the major consideration factor that needs to be addressed by parents. If children become bored with the exercise, there is nothing you can do to make your little one continue practicing. This is why you must choose fun, yet beneficial types of activities for your kid, so that they feel motivated and willing to engage. One such exercise is the whole-body vibration.

The majority of scientific evidence has shown that kids find vibration plates particularly amusing and have a great time standing or sitting on the oscillating platform. Furthermore, WBV has been found to increase children’s desire to take active participation in the activity and to break the monotonous routine associated with conventional exercise. The body vibration platform also delivers a relaxing effect that has been proven to soothe the kids’ nervous system and encourage calmness.

Summary
Cerebral palsy is one of the most prevalent motor disabilities in kids. The syndrome is linked to poor neuromuscular control, spasticity, subnormal balance, and body weakness. The condition affects over 17 million people worldwide making it extremely difficult for them to engage in normal physical activity.

Recent studies have shown promising results in tackling the inability to perform physical activity that is normally found in kids with CP. The exercise is known as vibration therapy and is carried out using a body vibration platform. So far, WBV has been proven to improve neuroplasticity, increase muscle contractions, and accelerate brain-muscle neural communication, among others.

Scientists are also positive about the use of vibrating equipment by children, stating that the platform is acceptable and safe for the little ones including kids with CP. The exercise requires as little as 15 – 20 minutes a day, 3 – 4 days a week, and can be performed from the convenience of your own home.

References (in order of appearance)
Pin, T.W., Butler, P.B. & Purves, S. (2019). Use of whole-body vibration therapy in individuals with moderate severity of cerebral palsy- a feasibility study. BMC Neurol 19, 80.

Matute-Llorente A, González-Agüero A, Gómez-Cabello A, Vicente-Rodríguez G, Casajús Mallén JA. (2014). Effect of whole-body vibration therapy on health-related physical fitness in children and adolescents with disabilities: a systematic review. J Adolesc Health.

Ibrahim, M., Eid, M. and Moawd, S. (2014). Effect of whole-body vibration on muscle strength, spasticity, and motor performance in spastic diplegic cerebral palsy children. Egyptian Journal of Medical Human Genetics. 15. 173–179.

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