Improving Sexual Function by Using Focal Vibrations in Men with Spinal Cord Injury: Encouraging Findings from a Feasibility Study.

Rocco Salvatore Calabrò, Antonino Naro, Massimo Pullia, Bruno Porcari, Michele Torrisi, Gianluca Carmelo La Rosa, Alfredo Manuli, Luana Billeri, Placido Bramanti, Fabrizio Quattrini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a frequent and disabling condition in patients with spinal cord injury (SCI). Spasticity can negatively affect sexual intercourse, as it may interfere with positioning, mobility, and muscle activation and strength, leading to ED. The aim of our study was to evaluate the feasibility and efficacy of muscle vibration (MV) applied to the pelvic muscles in improving ED in men with SCI. Ten adult men with traumatic SCI were submitted to 15 sessions of MV, applied on the perineum and the suprapubic and sacrococcygeal areas, using a pneumatic vibrator. MV was performed three times a week for five consecutive weeks, each session lasting 30 min. Muscle tone and sexual function were assessed before and after MV using the Modified Ashworth Scale (MAS) and International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF). We assessed the cremasteric and bulbocavernosus reflexes, as well as the electrophysiological bulbocavernosus reflex (eBCR) and pudendal nerve somatosensory-evoked potential (PSEP). MV was safe and well tolerated. All the patients reported an improvement in MAS and IIEF, with better reflexive responses, and a significant increase in eBCR and PSEP amplitude. In conclusion, MV of the pelvic floor is a promising method to reduce segmental spasticity and improve ED in men with incomplete SCI. However, our findings require confirmation through a randomized clinical trial with a larger sample size and longer trial period to examine long-term after effects.

Keywords: focal muscles vibrations; international index of erectile function; sexual dysfunction; spinal cord injury.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e658
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 11 2019


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