Date of Award


Degree Type

Selective Evidence-Based Medicine Review

Degree Name

Master of Science in Health Sciences - Physician Assistant

Department Chair

John Cavenagh, PhD, PA-C


OBJECTIVE: The objective of this selective EBM review is to determine whether or not whole body vibration (WBV) is a safe and effective adjunctive therapy for reducing fall risk in the elderly.

STUDY DESIGN: A review of English language randomized controlled blinded trials published within peer-reviewed journals from 2005-2010 evaluating the effectiveness of WBV in reducing fall and fall risk. The studies included elderly participants age 60 and older.

DATA SOURCES: Randomized controlled blinded trials were found using PubMed, Medline and OVID databases.

OUTCOMES MEASURED: Outcomes measured were reduction in fall number and reduction in fall risk. Fall number was assessed using a prospective self-reported count on number of falls via calendar system. Fall risk was assessed via three measures: a multifactorial fall risk parameter (the Physiological Profile Assessment), the Timed Up & Go (TUG) test which evaluates functional mobility and the Tinetti test which measures balance and identifies gait abnormalities.

RESULTS: One RCT found that WBV added onto an 18 month multifunctional exercise program significantly reduced the fall rate compared to the control group who did not receive WBV. The other two RCT’s that evaluated fall risk reduction displayed mixed results – one showed a significant positive change in both the Tinetti and TUG tests in the experimental group receiving WBV; the other RCT’s outcome measurement of the Physiological Profile Assessment displayed a
positive change after WBV that did not reach significance when compared to control while the TUG test improved significantly in the experimental group receiving WBV.

CONCLUSION: The results of the three RCT’s presented evidence that WBV can significantly and safely reduce falls and certain parameters that confer for a reduction in fall risk. While the Physiological Profile Assessment did not reach a significant change entirely, when the fall risk parameter was examined on the level of stratified subgroups, a significant change was displayed in fall risk when comparing the most high-risk group to control groups. However, the duration and
length of therapy and vibration parameters need to be more accurately determined through future comparative trials.