Vibration Study Shows Promise for Kids with Severe Cerebral Palsy

Most children learn to sit without support as an infant. The limited muscle control, sensation and coordination experienced by children with severe cerebral palsy make this developmental milestone more difficult to reach. A study currently underway at the University of Nebraska Medical Center Munroe-Meyer Institute (MMI) is examining a possible intervention to help children with cerebral palsy learn to sit independently. Regina Harbourne,PT, Ph.D., assistant professor of physical therapy at MMI is conducting the study and shares some of the early findings with PT Talker.

The study participants are children with moderate to severe cerebral palsy.  The control group receives physical therapy twice a week. The other group receives the same physical therapy while sitting on top of a vibrating mat.  The mat utilizes subtle, random vibrations at different frequencies. The vibrations  help  enhance the ability to sense where one’s body is in space which can improve postural control. To find out more about this study, listen now.

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  1. laura
    Posted October 7, 2010 at 3:17 am | Permalink


    I am very interested by your studies.
    I am learning physiotherapy and I have a son that is CP (quadri) – we are leaving in Israel.
    We are actually working on his seatting – if something can help him more it would be GREAT.
    How can I contact you to reach and test the vibrations plan?

    Thanks for your help
    Have a nice day,

  2. Reggie Harbourne
    Posted October 10, 2010 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    Thanks for your interest! My email is However, I should tell you that the vibration cushion is not available commercially, and was made specifically for this study. In addition to being custom-made (and thus very expensive), it is attached to a computer with special software to randomize and adjust the vibrations. Only the children in our study who are randomized to the vibration group have access to this equipment. And we do not yet know if it has long-lasting effects. I believe some of the studies with adults are not showing long lasting effects, so this may also be our result in sitting with children with CP. But you can be sure we will publish our results, no matter what the outcome, and if there is a positive outcome we will continue our study. Thank you again, and good luck in your studies.

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