Effects of White Noise Achilles Tendon Vibration on Quiet Standing and Active Postural Positioning

in Journal of Applied Biomechanics
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  • 1 Medical University of South Carolina
  • 2 Ralph H. Johnson Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center
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Applying white noise vibration to the ankle tendons has previously been used to improve passive movement detection and alter postural control, likely by enhancing proprioceptive feedback. The aim of the present study was to determine if similar methods focused on the ankle plantarflexors affect the performance of both quiet standing and an active postural positioning task, in which participants may be more reliant on proprioceptive feedback from actively contracting muscles. Twenty young, healthy participants performed quiet standing trials and active postural positioning trials designed to encourage reliance on plantarflexor proprioception. Performance under normal conditions with no vibration was compared to performance with 8 levels of vibration amplitude applied to the bilateral Achilles tendons. Vibration amplitude was set either as a percentage of sensory threshold (n = 10) or by root-mean-square (RMS) amplitude (n = 10). No vibration amplitude had a significant effect on quiet standing. In contrast, accuracy of the active postural positioning task was significantly (P = .001) improved by vibration with an RMS amplitude of 30 μm. Setting vibration amplitude based on sensory threshold did not significantly affect postural positioning accuracy. The present results demonstrate that appropriate amplitude tendon vibration may hold promise for enhancing the use of proprioceptive feedback during functional active movement.

Sacco, Gaffney, and Dean are with the Division of Physical Therapy, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC. Dean is also with Ralph H. Johnson Dept of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Charleston, SC.

Address author correspondence to Jesse C. Dean at deaje@musc.edu.
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