Vibration therapy is a type of neuro-muscular re-education, a treatment technique or exercise performed by an individual with the purpose of improving, via the nervous system, the level of communication between the body and the brain.
Because side-alternating vibration training and vibration therapy exercises rely on the involuntary stretch reflex, there is a significant amount of communication occurring between the brain and the contracting muscles with each individual exercise. The goal is to “jump start” the muscle contraction through the intense high-repetition rate called frequency, thereby enhancing the patient’s ability to efficiently recruit the muscle fibers, coordinate movement being performed by the joint and muscle tissue.
Vibration therapy is used to help increase bone density, reduce spasms and build muscle tone in people who have suffered spinal cord injuries, as well as individuals who have had strokes. Side-alternating vibration treatment optimizes “motor relearning” under the principle of repetition; it’s easy to use, promotes early rehabilitation and provides efficient therapy in a short period of time. While there are many studies at this point, more research is needed on the long-term effects of whole body vibration.
Helen Hayes Hospital uses a vibration therapy system called Galileo-Training. The principle of Galileo is based on the natural movement of human gait. Galileo’s side-alternating motion is similar to a seesaw movement with variable amplitude and frequency, and therefore stimulates a movement pattern similar to human gait. The rapid movement of the training platform causes a tilting movement of the pelvis, just like when walking, but much more frequently. To compensate, the body responds with rhythmic muscle contractions, alternating between the left and right side of the body. A training session of three minutes at 25 hertz therefore causes the same number of muscle contractions as walking a distance of 4,500 steps.
It’s not meant to be a total training method, but as an adjunct it can be extremely beneficial. Galileo-Training puts minimum stress on the cardiovascular system, helps to increase blood circulation and metabolism. It also offers pelvic floor training, improved flexibility and range of motion, relief from back pain and improved balance and coordination.