OBJECTIVE: Several focal muscle vibration (fMV) and whole body vibration (WBV) protocols have been designed to promote brain reorganization processes in patients with stroke. However, whether fMV and WBV should be considered helpful tools to promote post-stroke recovery remains still largely unclear.
METHODS: We here achieve a comprehensive review of the application of fMV and WBV to promote brain reorganization processes in patients with stroke. By first discussing the putative physiological basis of fMV and WBV and then examining previous observations achieved in recent randomized controlled trials (RCT) in patients with stroke, we critically discuss possible strength and limitations of the currently available data.
RESULTS: We provide the first systematic assessment of fMV studies demonstrating some improvement in upper and lower limb functions, in patients with chronic stroke. We also confirm and expand previous considerations about the rather limited rationale for the application of current WBV protocols in patients with chronic stroke.
CONCLUSION: Based on available information, we propose new recommendations for optimal stimulation parameters and strategies for recruitment of specific stroke populations that would more likely benefit from future fMV or WBV application, in terms of speed and amount of post-stroke functional recovery.