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Whole Body Vibration (WBV)

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In 1894 “mad scientist,” Nikola Tesla, tested his newest invention, a vibrating platform, on his friend Mark Twain.  He felt vibration might have therapeutic and health benefits.  Today we see that Tesla was not so “mad” after all: every day more medical clinics and sports teams discover the exciting and dramatic benefits of vibrating platforms.

This “new” modality, termed “Whole Body Vibration” (WBV), is being used in diverse populations, from the frail elderly to the elite athlete.  The list of demonstrated health benefits include:

  • Improved bone mass density (BMD) in patients suffering from osteoporosis and osteopenia
  • Increased muscle mass not only for athletes, but even for frail elders experiencing muscle atrophy
  • Dramatically better proprioception, balance and function for stroke patients and those suffering from Parkinson’s Disease (PD).  As far back as 1880, French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot discovered surprising improvement in Parkinson’s patients who had traveled by horse-drawn and railway carriages.  He attributed his unexpected findings to the vibration caused by those methods of travel, and he developed electrically-powered mechanical means for delivering those therapeutic vibrations to his clinical patients.  
  • Enhanced blood flow, and better lymphatic flow and venous drainage
  • Increased metabolic activity, aiding weight-loss efforts
  • Reduction of pain and muscle spasms

Whole Body Vibration should not be confused with those sources of dangerous occupational vibration that can sometimes lead to severe disability – like the kind of vibration experienced by truck drivers, factory workers and construction workers, for example.  That type of disruptive vibration is characterized by constant, extremely high frequencies and amplitudes (how hard a person is vibrated), as well as uneven and unpredictable spikes in frequency and amplitude. Further, people exposed to occupational vibration experience these dangerous levels of vibration for hours on end, day-in and day-out.

By contrast, WBV operates at much lower levels of both frequency (from less than 10 Hz to less than 65 Hz – 1 Hertz = 1 cycle/second) and amplitude (often less than 1 mm, but can be as much as 1 cm – the higher level still far below those limits suggested by OSHA).  Additionally, the therapeutic dosage for WBV can be as little as 3 minutes a day, three times per week,  While the dosage can be much higher – especially for athletes – it is never all day, every day.

As more physicians become aware of Whole Body Vibration’s health benefits, more practitioners will offer this therapeutic modality.  Currently, the best place to obtain WBV – outside the elite athletic training facility – is in those more enlightened physical therapy practices.

Oak Tree Physical Therapy, LLC
6207 Biltmore Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21215-3603
(410) 218-4172
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