2013 Volume 231 Issue 4 Pages 305-314
Elderly patients with diabetes and peripheral neuropathy are more likely to experience falls. However, the information available on how such falls can be prevented is scarce. We investigated the effects of whole-body vibration (WBV) combined with a balance exercise program on balance, muscle strength, and glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) in elderly patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Fifty-five elderly patients with diabetic neuropathy were randomly assigned to WBV with balance exercise group, balance exercise (BE) group, and control group. The WBV and BE groups performed the balance exercise program for 60 min per day, 2 times per week, for 6 weeks. Further, the WBV group performed WBV training (up to 3 × 3 min, 3 times per week, for 6 weeks). The control group did not participate in any training. The main outcome measures were assessed at baseline and after 6 weeks of training; namely, we assessed the postural sway and one leg stance (OLS) for static balance; Berg balance scale (BBS), timed up-and-go (TUG) test, and functional reach test (FRT) for dynamic balance; five-times-sit-to-stand (FTSTS) test for muscle strength; and HbA1c for predicting the progression of diabetes. Significant improvements were noted in the static balance, dynamic balance, muscle strength, and HbA1c in the WBV group, compared to the BE and control groups (P < 0.05). Thus, in combination with the balance exercise program, the short-term WBV therapy is beneficial in improving balance, muscle strength and HbA1c, in elderly patients with diabetic neuropathy who are at high risk for suffering falls.