What Is Whole Body Vibration Therapy?

What Is Whole Body Vibration Therapy?

If you’re new to the world of physiotherapy, you may be wondering what whole body vibration is and how it is used to help children with mobility issues. If so, you’ve come to the right place! In this article, our physiotherapists at Therapy Stars deep dive into whole body vibration therapy, from how it is used to its many benefits. So, let’s jump right in. What is whole body vibration therapy? 

Whole Body Vibration (WBV) is an innovative practice where individuals stand, sit, or lie on a vibrating platform. This vibration transmits energy throughout the body, compelling muscles to contract and relax multiple times per second. This method has been demonstrated to enhance the formation and maintenance of neuromuscular junctions. As a result, WBV can significantly improve muscle strength in various scenarios.

Keep reading to learn more about this innovative method of therapy and how we incorporate it into our clinic. 

Whole Body Vibration Therapy

Whole body vibration is a method of treatment that uses a vibrating platform to transmit energy through the body, forcing it to contract and relax its muscles numerous times a second. The individual carrying out whole body vibration can stand, sit or lie on a machine with a vibrating platform. It has been shown that this approach can improve the formation and maintenance of neuromuscular junctions, the site where nerve cells and muscles communicate, resulting in enhanced muscle strength in different situations. 

There are many different types of vibration plates available however, the main two used within the Paediatric population are the Galileo and the Hypervibe:

Galileo Vibration Plate  

The Galileo vibration plate provides a side alternating motion based on the natural movement of human gait which creates a tilting movement of the pelvis. With frequencies ranging from 5-30 Hz depending on the platform, therapists are able to use the Galileo to address a number of therapeutic goals including balance training, mobilisation and strengthening tight muscles, spasticity reduction as well as strength and coordination building. 

Utterly unique to the Galileo whole body vibration platform is the Wobble function, which generates randomly changing frequencies during the training. The change in frequency allows the patient to gain more out of their training time by not allowing the muscles to accommodate to the stimulation, forcing the body to constantly adapt to the changing frequencies. 

Hypervibe Full Body Vibration 

Hypervibe whole body vibration is the most common of the two. It uses a moving platform to send pulses of kinetic energy up through the body. The therapist controls the strength of these energy waves using the machine’s control panel. As each wave moves up through the body, some of the energy is absorbed by the tissues in the body and is converted to heat. 

Typically, muscles and joints feel and operate more effectively when they are warm. Hypervibe WBV has been proven to create a warming effect in muscles and joints more quickly than other types of exercises. The upward movement of the platform also causes movement in the joints of your body which has a mobilising effect and causes the muscles and tissues surrounding the joints to stretch and vibrate. 

Many children love using the Hypervibe during physiotherapy sessions as it calms the nervous system, which reduces anxiety, helps regulate muscle tone and induce relaxation. This tool can also break up routine procedures, allowing children to experience a new sensation and added sensory input whilst exercising. 

Benefits of Hypervibe 

Interestingly, different frequencies on the Hypervibe platform can be used for a range of benefits, including: 

  • Low frequencies can be used to challenge balance. 
  • Mid frequencies increase blood flow and help with circulation or swelling in the extremities.
  • High frequencies are most commonly used to help to strengthen muscles. 

Who Can Benefit From Whole Body Vibration?

One of the main benefits of whole body vibration therapy is that it doesn’t require any baseline cognitive or physical abilities and can be used either independently or with assistance. A child who requires full assistance can be supported into any safe position, while a more able child can perform dynamic exercises whilst carrying out whole body vibration treatment.  

Can Whole Body Vibration Therapy Help Children With Cerebral Palsy? 

There are a number of studies that have been carried out to explore the effects of whole body vibration on children with cerebral palsy as this is the most common physical disability that affects children and young people. In fact, there is increasing evidence that whole body vibration is an effective rehabilitation tool for children with neuromuscular disorders, including cerebral palsy (CP). It has been found to be effective in improving mobility, muscle function and strength, as well as bone mineral density, gross motor function, and quality of life in children and young adults with CP.

One research group in particular concluded that one session of WBV decreased coordination deficits, reflex excitability, and spasticity and had positive effects on gross motor skills, gait, mobility and strength in patients with cerebral palsy. 

The long-term benefits of whole body vibration therapy include 

  • Increase in muscle mass and bone mineral density
  • Improved gross motor function
  • Improved strength, gait and mobility
  • Reduced muscle tone and spasticity

Thus, we can conclude that WBV could reduce cerebral palsy-related physical disability and sensorimotor difficulty. Patients and families can improve their child’s independence and safety by incorporating whole body vibration into their standard therapy practices for optimal neurorehabilitation. 

For more information, take a look at our article, ‘What is Cerebral Palsy (CP) in Children?’ 

Effects of Whole Body Vibration 

There are various different benefits of whole body vibration therapy depending on the frequency of the vibration which can range from 5Hz-30Hz. The effects on the body varies depending on the frequency of vibration used. 

Some of these effects include:

Low Hz 5-8: 

  • Challenge to balance and stability

Medium Hz 9-15: 

  • Relaxation of muscles
  • Improved circulation
  • Mobilisation of joints

High Hz 16-28:

  • Increase muscle strength
  • Improve coordination
  • Increase muscle tone
  • Improve circulation
  • Increase bone density

To summarise, whole body vibration can be used as part of the physiotherapy treatment to help improve muscle strength and control. It has also been found to have a positive effect on bone density, although the results for this can take a little longer to see. Overall, studies have shown that WBV can help children become stronger, more mobile and benefits their bone structure and strength. 

How We Use Whole Body Vibration at Therapy Stars? 

At Therapy Stars, we incorporate whole body vibration (WBV) as a supplement to other therapies, rather than dedicating an entire session solely to vibration therapy. This can be done in a variety of ways such as using it to reduce spasticity in muscles at the start of a session. 

Alternatively, it can be used for children who have less muscle tone to help activate and “switch on” the muscles needed before learning a new skill. For some children, this can be used as an active rest during the session between exercises or to help them regulate their sensory system after being challenged. 

Child using the hypervibe plate at Therapy Stars.

What Exercises Do We Use? 

At Therapy Stars, we enjoy getting creative with our Hypervibe vibration plate. We use a variety of exercises to challenge our clients. Some of our most common methods include:

  • In standing
  • High kneeling (with or without support in front)
  • Bench sitting
  • Long sitting
  • Four point kneeling
  • Low kneeling on the floor with arms on the vibration plate
  • Step standing with one foot on the floor and one slightly higher on the vibration plate. 

Whole Body Vibration At Therapy Stars

Are you concerned about your child’s development? At Therapy Stars, we are dedicated to helping your child achieve their full mobility potential. Our Child Physiotherapy service, designed for children aged 4-12, addresses various conditions such as cerebral palsy, poor balance, and coordination and developmental delays.

We employ a range of specialist treatments and physiotherapy exercises tailored to your child’s needs. Additionally, we provide valuable advice to parents, carers, and schools to support development beyond the clinic.

For more information, book a complimentary call with a member of our friendly team today!  

Whole Body Vibration FAQs

Is Whole Body Vibration Treatment Safe? 

Yes. For the majority of children, whole body vibration offers many benefits and is a completely safe treatment option. Whilst WBV is a relatively new practice in the UK, it has been used for a number of years in different countries (e.g. Australia and Germany). However, certain conditions may not be suitable for WBV, and you may need to consult with your child’s doctor before starting this treatment.

Can Children Use Vibration Plates? 

Absolutely! Numerous studies have shown the benefits in using whole body vibration with the paediatric population for a variety of different conditions. 

When Do You Use Whole Body Vibration Therapy? 

At Therapy Stars, we like to incorporate whole body vibration therapy into our regular and intensive sessions as an additional treatment option alongside other therapies. It is often used as a “warm-up” at the beginning of a session or as an active rest period. 

Children usually find whole body vibration fun and engaging, making it an enjoyable way to keep them involved while providing significant benefits without them even realising it.

How Often Should a Child Receive Whole Body Vibration Therapy? 

Studies suggest that regular 20-30 minute sessions of whole body vibration therapy can be beneficial. At Therapy Stars, we integrate whole body vibration therapy into our comprehensive treatment plans, combining it with other therapies such as Dynamic Movement Intervention (DMI), purposeful play, and traditional physiotherapy. This holistic approach helps maximise the benefits and overall effectiveness of our therapy sessions.