Vibration healing (also called vibration therapy) is the use of mechanical vibration to prevent, treat, and promote recovery from a variety of physical ailments, including pain, sports injuries, and bone density loss.
Vibration therapy involves the application of vibration to part or all of the body. This vibration is delivered through a variety of massage tools and/or specialized equipment found in clinical and health club environments, as well as sometimes available for home use.
Ancient Greeks promoted vibration therapy to heal the local stagnation of blood (bruising) and increase joint mobility (arthritis). Practitioners created vibration by placing a long piece of wood, which an assistant held, over the affected area. The practitioner would then use the patient's body as a stabilizer and saw the wood; vibrations of this motion would be transferred to the affected area. In 16th Century Japan, a popular book advocated the use of percussion and vibration massage to improve rheumatic complaints and encourage the healing of broken bones. Over 40 years ago, the Russian space program noticed that astronauts returning from space experienced bone fractures and bone mass loss much earlier than their earth-bound counterparts. The Russians used whole-body vibration devices to help build up the bone mass of astronauts. NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration) has used vibration therapy to prevent the loss of bone mass in astronauts, particularly females, who are more prone to osteoporosis.
Vibration therapy was analyzed by 19th Century neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot. Charcot created a vibration chair after observing Parkinson's patients and the beneficial effects they endured after a train or carriage ride. Later a colleague of Charcot's, Gilles de la Tourette, created a vibrating helmet, thinking that the brain would react to the vibrations.
Advocates have promoted vibration therapy to treat a variety of other conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, phantom limb syndrome, cerebral palsy, arthritis, tinnitus, ulcers, and fibromyalgia. They also claim that this modality reduces cellulite, regulates reproductive function, boosts the lymphatic system, improves wound healing, and increases glucose and body metabolism.
Multiple clinical trials have investigated the validity of this therapy for pain, sports injuries, and bone density loss; however, high-quality human clinical trials are necessary before any firm recommendation can be made.
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