Whole body vibration (WBV) is increasingly being used to improve balance and motor function and reduce the secondary complications associated with cerebral palsy (CP). The purpose of this study was to systematically appraise published research regarding the effects of static and/or dynamic exercise performed on a vibrating platform on gait, strength, spasticity and bone mineral density (BMD) within this population.
Systematic searches of six electronic databases identified five studies that met our inclusion criteria (2 at Level II and 3 at Level III-2). Studies were analysed to determine: (a) participant characteristics; (b) optimal exercise and WBV treatment protocol; (c) effect on gait, strength, spasticity and BMD; and (d) the outcome measures used to evaluate effect. As data was not homogenous a meta-analysis was not possible.
Several design limitations were identified and intervention protocols are poorly described. The effects on strength, gait, spasticity and BMD in persons with CP remain inconclusive with weak evidence that WBV may improve selected muscle strength and gait parameters and that prolonged exposure may improve BMD; there is currently no evidence that WBV can reduce spasticity.
The evidence for exercise performed on a vibrating platform on mobility, strength, spasticity and BMD in CP remains scant and further larger scale investigations with controlled parameters to better understand the effects of WBV exercises in this population is recommended.