Testing of a New Therapeutic Vibration Device to Reduce Neuromuscular Weakness in Hospitalized Patients

  • End date
    Mar 2, 2025
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    University of Michigan
Updated on 2 April 2021


Objective: Test the ability of vibration to produce physiologic, biochemical, and anatomic changes consistent with exercise that would help prevent the development of muscle weakness that occurs when patients are immobile for long periods of time.


During critical illness, patients who are immobilized for more than a few days develop severe muscle and nerve weakness despite receiving full supportive care, which may include physical therapy. In patients requiring mechanical ventilation (a device that breaths for them) for longer than 7 days, the incidence of ICU-acquired weakness is reported to be between 25% and 60%. Such weakness may contribute to increased duration of mechanical ventilation, increased length of stay in the ICU and hospital, and poor quality of life among survivors. This is part of the newly recognized Post Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS). Moreover, patients who are transferred from the ICU to a high-dependency unit (HDU), intensive therapy unit (ITU), post-operative therapy or outpatient ambulatory care need to be mobile as well as awake for any physical therapy. Patients affected by sepsis (severe blood stream infections), osteoarthritis, spinal cord injury, stroke, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, cancer, and other illnesses suffer muscle loss and weakness. Early mobilization (EM) has demonstrated the ability to significantly reduce the detrimental effects of prolonged immobilization such as polyneuropathy and myopathy (nerve damage and muscle weakness), which in turn reduces the time patients spend on mechanical ventilation and the overall length of hospital stay. EM treatments include intense physical therapy, cycle ergometry, transcutaneous electrical muscle stimulation (TEMS) and continuous lateral rotational therapy (CLRT). However, carrying out intense physical therapy using therapists is impractical (especially at smaller hospitals) and cannot be implemented in heavily sedated patients (patients who cannot cooperate). Evidence suggests that vibration may be capable of producing adequate muscle contraction via muscle-spinal loops that may be sufficient to reduce or prevent nerve damage and muscle weakness caused by prolonged immobilization thus serving as an effective treatment making patients stronger when they leave the ICU.

The purpose of this study is to test a prototype vibration device and strategy on its ability to exercise large muscle groups, increase muscle blood flow, and increase circulating levels of blood chemicals associated with exercise/activity. The study will be used to find optimal vibration frequencies that provide maximal evidence of associated muscle activity. Eventually the investigators hope to see a vibration device capable of delivering a more effective therapy compared to the smaller gains derived from traditional measures of physical therapy in critically ill patients such as TEMS, CLRT and cycle ergometry to patients. The vibration device may directly benefit the patient in terms of health, length of stay and reduced re-admission, hospital staff in terms of productivity (i.e., through reduction in nursing effort) and the hospital in terms of reduced cost and return on investment. Its value is also envisioned in many other populations of immobilized acutely ill and injured patients as well as those with chronic conditions.

Condition Critical Illness, critically ill
Treatment Therapeutic Vibration Device
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT03479008
SponsorUniversity of Michigan
Last Modified on2 April 2021


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Inclusion Criteria

healthy volunteers
sick patients admitted to the ICUs at University of Michigan hospital

Exclusion Criteria

Acute Spinal Cord Injury
Acute vertebral body fracture or injury
Acute stroke or intracerebral hemorrhage
Hemodynamic instability or other event/condition believed by care team to warrant nonparticipation
Known pregnancy
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