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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Effects of whole-body vibration on postural control in elderly: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Slavko Rogan1, Roger Hilfiker2, Kaspar Herren3, Lorenz Radlinger1 and Eling D de Bruin4*

Author Affiliations

1 Bern University of Applied Sciences - Health, Bern, Switzerland

2 University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland, Leukerbad, Switzerland

3 Bern University Hospital, Bern, Switzerland

4 Institute of Human Movement Sciences and Sport, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

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BMC Geriatrics 2011, 11:72  doi:10.1186/1471-2318-11-72

Published: 3 November 2011



This systematic review was performed to summarize the current evidence for whole body vibration (WBV) interventions on postural control in elderly.


English and German language papers in Medline, PEDro, Cinahl and the Cochrane databases were searched. Two reviewers extracted data on patients' characteristics, type of WBV intervention and outcomes. Two independent reviewers rated the methodological quality of these studies. Data were pooled using random-effects meta-analysis.


Fifteen papers reporting quantitative data were included. Results from 15 papers could be pooled for a meta-analysis. The studies involved 933 participants. In 7 studies the authors investigated the effects of vibration plates generating vertical sinusoidal vibrations (VS-WBV) and 7 papers described the use of side-alternating sinusoidal vibrations (SS-WBV). One study investigated both VS-WBV and SS-WBV.

Weak to moderate evidence of an overall effect as a result of VS-WBV and SS-WBV was observed for (a) static balance for post-intervention values with a standardized mean difference (SMD) -0.06, 95% CI -0.31 to 0.18 and for change values SMD -0.26, 95% CI -1.09 to 0.57, and (b) dynamic balance for post-intervention-values SMD -0.34, 95% CI -0.60 to -0.08. For functional balance (c) an overall outcome for post-intervention values with SMD of 0.34, 95% CI -0.19 to 0.87 was found.


The 15 studies reviewed were of moderate methodological quality. In summary, SS-WBV seems to have a beneficial effect on dynamic balance in elderly individuals. However, the current results should be interpreted with caution because of the observed heterogeneity of training parameters and statistical methods. Future studies are warranted to evaluate the effects of WBV on postural control in an elderly population.