A combination of whole body vibration (WBV) and exercise therapy may result in significant short-term improvements in motor performance, activities of daily living, and postural stability in Parkinson’s disease, according to findings presented at the 2016 World Parkinson Congress, held September 20-23, 2016, in Portland, Oregon.

“Pharmacologic intervention is the current standard of care for Parkinson’s disease, yet medications frequently fail to control some symptoms, including tremor and postural instability, which degrade functional performance and quality of life. Non-pharmacological treatments, including Whole Body Vibration and exercise therapy may reduce these symptoms,” wrote Drucilla Edmonston and Olivia Gruder, medical students from Florida State University College of Medicine in Tallahassee, Florida.

The researchers recruited 15 participants with Parkinson’s disease (stages I through IV) through the National Parkinson’s Foundation Center. Participants were excluded if they had a history of dementia, heart disease, exercise intolerance, stroke, or peripheral neuropathy, open wounds; recent surgical implantation was an additional study exclusion criterion.

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Over 6 weeks, the participants underwent 12 sessions of combined WBV and exercise therapy, with a treatment regimen of static and dynamic lower body exercises that were performed on a vibrating platform. The researchers assessed motor performance, functional outcome, and quality of life with the GAITRite®System, Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS parts 2-3), Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), Fatigue Symptom Inventory (FSI), and Healthy Days Measure (HRQOL-14). Data were collected at baseline, 1 day after the 6-week program ended, and 4 days after the program ended.

Statistically significant improvements were seen in combined UPDRS scores (1.474, 20.64) = 26.37, P <.001, decreasing from baseline and at both follow-up measurements:

  • UPDRS score at baseline: 29.53±7.60
  • UPDRS score 1 day following treatment: 18.00±7.09
  • UPDRS score 4 days following treatment: 17.53±5.78

Post-hoc analysis also found UPDRS score decreases:

  • From baseline to 1 day post-intervention (10.13, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 4.86-15.41; P <.001)
  • From baseline to 4 days post-intervention (10.73, 95% CI: 6.22-15.25; P <.001)

Significant improvements were also found in gait velocity, cadence, and double support time after treatment. No significant change was found in FSI, BDI, and HRQOL-14 scores.

“In conclusion, combination WBV-exercise therapy has significant positive short-term influence on motor performance, activities of daily living, and postural stability. Further investigation is needed to determine long-term effects,” the authors wrote.

For more coverage of WPC 2016, go here.


Edmonston D, Gruder O. Whole body vibration therapy with exercise enhances motor function and improves quality of life in Parkinson’s disease. Presented at: 2016 World Parkinson Congress. September 20-23, 2016; Portland, OR. Poster 33.21.

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