|dc.description.abstract||In Australia, 3.8 million people are aged 65 or over; this age group is projected to grow to 8.7 million by 2056, making up 22 per cent of Australians (1). This rapid ‘ageing’ of the population is thanks to current advancements in medical technology and public health schemes (2). Although individuals can now expect to live into their sixties and beyond, ageing is associated with an accumulation of generalised impairments to health (3-5). Therefore, managing healthy ageing in older adults to improve their quality of life, mobility and nutrition is an important social and economic challenge in Australia. Physical activity has been well established as a key factor to support an individual’s biopsychosocial health and is essential to prevent age-related impairments (6-8). However, several established barriers (e.g., physical limitations, competing priorities and access barriers) prevent older adults from undertaking physical activity (9-12). Vibration therapy has been reported to mechanically stimulate muscle spindles, initiating muscle contractions like physical activity, without the need for wide-ranging movements (13, 14).
A systematic review was conducted to understand the effectiveness of vibration therapy on the quality of life, mobility and nutrition of older adults. The review highlighted a total of five studies examining these variables. These randomised controlled trials revealed that participants undertaking vibration therapy had improved knee joint mobility (15, 16), general functional mobility (15, 17, 18), gait and walking ability (17, 18) and balance ability (15, 18, 19). Some of these studies also reported significant improvement in certain aspects of quality of life (15, 17). However, nutrition was not a key variable assessed in any of the studies. Along with these findings, seated cycloid vibration therapy was considered the most viable form of vibration therapy for older adults with impaired mobility due to its postulated ease of use, portability and safety compared to standing whole-body vibration. However, the study focusing on seated cycloid vibration therapy was of low quality, suggesting further research for this therapy. A pilot intervention study was conducted on the effectiveness of cycloid vibration therapy on the quality of life, mobility and nutrition of aged care residents to cover the gaps evaluated by the systematic review.
In the pilot intervention study, 14 eligible aged care facility residents aged 65 and over who met the inclusion criteria were allocated into either the cycloid vibration therapy (intervention) group or the control group based on exclusion criteria. Initially, those in the intervention group were to participate in the intervention for 12 weeks, with outcome measurements being conducted at baseline, week four, week eight and week 12. However, due to restrictions placed on aged-care facilities due to COVID-19 at week four of the intervention, the cycloid vibration therapy treatment was only provided for four weeks. Additionally, outcome measures were conducted at baseline and six months postintervention when COVID-19 restrictions were relaxed. Consequently, outcome measures were not performed at the end of week 4, 8 and 12. However, this allowed for any long-term effects to be measured using the 6-Dimensional Quality of Life Assessment, Physiotherapy Mobility Assessment and Mini Nutritional Assessment. No significant differences at six months post-intervention were observed in the quality of life, mobility or nutrition of participants undertaking the cycloid vibration therapy treatment compared to baseline. Despite these findings, participants evaluated the intervention as relaxing and comfortable and desired the intervention to have been at the aged care facility during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A qualitative study was also conducted to assess the experiences of these participants during the COVID-19 pandemic concerning their quality of life, mobility and nutrition. Semi-structured, one-on-one interviews addressed resident life during the fullscale COVID-19 aged-care restrictions imposed by the Queensland Government. Participant experiences comprised three major themes: (1) reduced face-to-face contact with close ones, (2) disruption to daily routines and activities and (3) aged care staff affecting resident wellbeing. These major themes were observed to affect the quality of life, mobility and nutrition of older adults in several ways. Thus, they were considered potential confounding factors to the previous intervention study.
Overall, these studies validate the need for further research into the effectiveness of cycloid vibration therapy on the quality of life, mobility and nutrition in aged care residents. Unavoidable limitations of the study, that is, the break in the intervention period and the effect of COVID-19, make the findings of this research project inconclusive. However, participant evaluations revealed that they enjoyed the cycloid vibration therapy program and desired to redo the intervention. With participants expressing disruption to services and staff availability, providing the residents with cycloid vibration therapy may have proved invaluable to their quality of life, mobility and nutrition. Recommendations based on the limitations of this study may help design a large-scale intervention study regarding the effectiveness of cycloid vibration therapy on the quality of life, mobility and nutrition of aged care residents.||