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Whole Body Vibration Improves Cognitive Function

Whole Body Vibration has been found to induce physiological changes in human subjects, improving their neuromuscular, respiratory and cardiovascular functions.

The human body has its own vibratory frequency ranging between 5 to 20 Hz. Exposure of human body to vibrations in the range of 20–70 Hz may be considered as mild stressful stimuli initiating adaptive effects in different body systems. This principle has been the basis on which the concept of whole-body vibration (WBV) therapy has evolved over the past two decades. WBV has now come to be used as an alternative or supplement to conventional physical training. Essentially, the WBV therapy platforms deliver repeated, rapid and short intermittent oscillations to the body at variable frequencies (commonly ~15–60Hz) causing vertical, horizonal or alternating displacements which are transmitted through the legs or other body parts. The vibrations could be delivered while the patient is standing or sitting on a chair place on the vibrating platform.

There is solid evidence to prove that subjecting the body to these challenging frequencies of vibration through customized whole-body vibration results in beneficial effects on cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems similar to those observed after physical training. Recent evidence suggests that WBV exercise could be an alternative exercise modality to improve body composition, muscle strength, postural stability, bone mass, sensorimotor performance and cardiovascular function in various populations.

Studies in both humans and mice have demonstrated that physical exercise induces structural and functional changes in the brain and has enormous effect on cognition. Exercise especially improves executive functions like planning, working memory, attention, problem solving, inhibition, multi-tasking and mental flexibility. Histological and morphometric analyses of the brain revealed that WBV induces neurogenesis, neuronal plasticity and alteration in transmission across neurotransmitter systems, all of which improve cognitive performance.

Ki-Hong Kim studied the effects of WBV on women with senile dementia and recorded a significant improvement in their Mini-Mental State Examination scores after 8 weeks of intervention. This improvement has been attributed to an increased blood flow in the cerebral circulation. These effects correspond to the observation that regular physical exercise enhances cognitive functions and prevents the progressive cognitive decline in patients with dementia.

Fuermaier et al. compared the effect of WBVT on cognitive functions of 17 adults having ADHD with 83 healthy adults. Just two minutes of WBV treatment resulted in an acute improvement in attention in patients with ADHD with a medium effect size as opposed to the small effect size noted in healthy controls. Attention problems being the most common cognitive deficits in persons with ADHD, this observation is of significance from a clinical perspective.

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