Vibration detection: Its function and recent advances in medical applications

Tamás Oroszi, Marieke J G van Heuvelen, Csaba Nyakas, Eddy A van der Zee*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
53 Downloads (Pure)


Vibrations are all around us. We can detect vibrations with sensitive skin mechanoreceptors, but our conscious awareness of the presence of vibrations is often limited. Nevertheless, vibrations play a role in our everyday life. Here, we briefly describe the function of vibration detection and how it can be used for medical applications by way of whole body vibration. Strong vibrations can be harmful, but milder vibrations can be beneficial, although to what extent and how large the clinical relevance is are still controversial. Whole body vibration can be applied via a vibrating platform, used in both animal and human research. Recent findings make clear that the mode of action is twofold: next to the rather well-known exercise (muscle) component, it also has a sensory (skin) component. Notably, the sensory (skin) component stimulating the brain has potential for several purposes including improvements in brain-related disorders. Combining these two components by selecting the optimal settings in whole body vibration has clear potential for medical applications. To realize this, the field needs more standardized and personalized protocols. It should tackle what could be considered the "Big Five" variables of whole body vibration designs: vibration amplitude, vibration frequency, method of application, session duration/frequency, and total intervention duration. Unraveling the underlying mechanisms by translational research can help to determine the optimal settings. Many systematic reviews on whole body vibration end with the conclusion that the findings are promising yet inconclusive. This is mainly because of the large variation in the "Big Five" settings between studies and incomplete reporting of methodological details hindering reproducibility. We are of the opinion that when (part of) these optimal settings are being realized, a much better estimate can be given about the true potential of whole body vibration as a medical application.

Original languageEnglish
Article number619
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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