A systematic review of supported standing programs

date: 2010;3(3):197-213. doi: 10.3233/PRM-2010-0129.
author: Glickman LB1, Geigle PR, Paleg GS.
publication: J Pediatr Rehabil Med.


The routine clinical use of supported standing in hospitals, schools and homes currently exists. Questions arise as to the nature of the evidence used to justify this practice. This systematic review investigated the available evidence underlying supported standing use based on the Center for Evidence-Based Medicine (CEBM) Levels of Evidence framework.


The database search included MEDLINE, CINAHL, GoogleScholar, HighWire Press, PEDro, Cochrane Library databases, and APTAs Hooked on Evidence from January 1980 to October 2009 for studies that included supported standing devices for individuals of all ages, with a neuromuscular diagnosis. We identified 112 unique studies from which 39 met the inclusion criteria, 29 with adult and 10 with pediatric participants. In each group of studies were user and therapist survey responses in addition to results of clinical interventions.


The results are organized and reported by The International Classification of Function (ICF) framework in the following categories: b4: Functions of the cardiovascular, haematological, immunological, and respiratory systems; b5: Functions of the digestive, metabolic, and endocrine systems; b7: Neuromusculoskeletal and movement related functions; Combination of d4: Mobility, d8: Major life areas and Other activity and participation. The peer review journal studies mainly explored using supported standers for improving bone mineral density (BMD), cardiopulmonary function, muscle strength/function, and range of motion (ROM). The data were moderately strong for the use of supported standing for BMD increase, showed some support for decreasing hypertonicity (including spasticity) and improving ROM, and were inconclusive for other benefits of using supported standers for children and adults with neuromuscular disorders. The addition of whole body vibration (WBV) to supported standing activities appeared a promising trend but empirical data were inconclusive. The survey data from physical therapists (PTs) and participant users attributed numerous improved outcomes to supported standing: ROM, bowel/bladder, psychological, hypertonicity and pressure relief/bedsores. BMD was not a reported benefit according to the user group.


There exists a need for empirical mechanistic evidence to guide clinical supported standing programs across practice settings and with various-aged participants, particularly when considering a life-span approach to practice.

Monitoring standing wheelchair use after spinal cord injury: a case report.

date: 02/04/2005
author: Shields RK, Dudley-Javoroski S.
publication: Disabil Rehabil. 2005 Feb 4;27(3):142-6.
pubmed_ID: 15823996

PURPOSE: An important issue in spinal cord injury (SCI) research is whether standing can yield positive health benefits. However, quantifying dose of standing and establishing subject compliance with a standing protocol is difficult. This case report describes a method to monitor dose of standing outside the laboratory, describes the standing patterns of one subject, and describes this subject’s satisfaction with the standing protocol. METHOD: A man with T-10 complete paraplegia agreed to have his commercially available standing wheelchair instrumented with a custom-designed logging device for a 2-year period. The micro-controller-based logger, under custom software control, was mounted to the standing wheelchair. The logger recorded date, duration, angle of standing, and start/stop times. RESULTS: The client exceeded a suggested minimum dosage of standing per month (130.4% of goal), choosing to stand for short bouts (mean = 11.57 min) at an average angle of 61 degrees, on an average 3.86 days per calendar week. He was generally very satisfied with the standing device and provided subjective reports of improved spasticity and bowel motility. CONCLUSION: This case report describes a standing and surveillance system that allow quantification of standing dose. Future controlled studies are needed to evaluate whether standing can be beneficially affect secondary complications after SCI.

Effects of a single session of prolonged muscle stretch on spastic muscle of stroke patients.

date: 04/25/2001
author: Tsai KH, Yeh CY, Chang HY, Chen JJ.
publication: Proc Natl Sci Counc Repub China B. 2001 Apr;25(2):76-81.
pubmed_ID: 11370763

The control of spasticity is often a significant problem in the management of patients with spasticity. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of a single session of prolonged muscle stretch (PMS) on the spastic muscle. Seventeen patients with spastic hemiplegia were selected to receive treatment. Subjects underwent PMS of the triceps surae (TS) by standing with the feet dorsiflexed on a tilt-table for 30 minutes. Our test battery consisted of four measurements including the modified Ashworth scale of the TS, the passive range of motion (ROM) of ankle dorsiflexion, the H/M ratio of the TS, and the F/M ratio of the tibialis anterior (TA). The results indicated that the passive ROM of ankle dorsiflexion increased significantly (p < 0.05) compared to that before PMS treatment. Additionally, PMS reduced motor neuron excitability of the TS and significantly increased that of the TA (p < 0.05). These results suggest that 30 minutes of PMS is effective in reducing motor neuron excitability of the TS in spastic hemiplegia, thus providing a safe and economical method for treating stroke patients.

Soleus motor neuron excitability before and after standing.

date: 08/01/2004
author: Deshpande P, Shields RK.
publication: Electromyogr Clin Neurophysiol. 2004 Jul-Aug;44(5):259-64.
pubmed_ID: 15378863

H-reflexes have been used to assess the effect of various postures on the excitability of the soleus motor neuronal pool. The purpose of this study was to determine if the excitability of the motor neuron pool, measured via H-reflexes in a seated position, change after a standing protocol in able-bodied individuals. We hypothesized that the excitability of the motor neuronal pool is minimally affected by the standing protocol leading to a reproducible H-reflex. Ten healthy individuals (height = 69.05+/-2.27 inches, weight = 161.7+/-22.44 lbs, age = 27.7+/-7.0 years) participated in the study. Soleus H-reflex recruitment curves were established before and after a standing protocol in a seated position. The standing protocol involved 12 minutes of active upright standing interspersed with 10 minutes of relaxed passive standing in a standing frame, similar to a protocol currently used for spinal cord injured subjects. The maximum M-waves and H-reflex amplitudes were not systematically changed before and after standing. There was also a strong agreement between the H-reflexes and M-waves measured before and after standing (ICC = 0. 99 and .96, respectively). We conclude that the H-reflexes measured in this study were reproducible, indicating that standing had no long lasting effect on the motor neuronal pool excitability. The findings support that the method discussed in this report is appropriate to assess the effects of electrically induced standing on motor neuron pool excitability in individuals with spasticity from spinal cord injury.

Reduction of muscular hypertonus by long-term muscle stretch.

date: 01/01/1981
author: Odeen I.
publication: Scand J Rehabilitation Medicine. 1981;13(2-3):93-9.
pubmed_ID: 7345572

In 10 patients with spastic paraparesis, the effect of long-term stretch on hip adductor muscle tone was studied. Stretch was accomplished by using a mechanical leg-abductor device giving individually adjusted adductor muscle stretch in single or repeated 30 min periods. The effect on muscle tone was estimated from surface EMG activity and by range of voluntary and passive hip abduction. The passive movements were obtained by an individually adjusted constant pulling force. After a single session of stretch, range of voluntary hip abduction increased 3 to 16 degrees (average 85%). Range of passive movement increased 1 to 9 degrees (average 23%). After repeated stretch periods in a home program (4 patients), range of voluntary hip abduction increased 5 to 22 degrees (average 255%). Range of passive movements increased 6 to 12 degrees (average 48%). In all patients studied the co-activation of the antagonists in voluntary hip abduction was reduced after a stretch session.

Nonoperative treatment of osteogenesis imperfecta: orthotic and mobility management.

date: 09/01/1981
author: Bleck EE.
publication: Clin Orthop Relat Res. 1981 Sep;(159):111-22.
pubmed_ID: 7285447

The problem of osteoporosis superimposed on the basic collagen defect of osteogenesis imperfecta has been approached by the use of plastic containment orthoses for the lower limbs, in addition to developmentally staged mobility devices that assist early standing and walking. The purpose of forcing early weight-bearing is to provide stress to the lower limb bones in order to minimize osteoporosis, prevent refracture and deformity, and curb subsequent immobilization osteoporosis, thus breaking a vicious cycle. Management goals are based upon adult needs for independence: efficiency in daily living activities and in mobility. These goals were reached in most of our patients via use of plastic orthoses, early weight-bearing, and electrically powered wheelchairs. Manual osteoclasis of the tibia followed by plastic orthoses utilizing principles of fluid compression to support fractured or structurally weak bones appeared successful at the time of follow-up. Intramedullary rodding of the femur was necessary in most of the 12 children with osteogenesis imperfecta congenita. Supplementary plastic orthoses have reduced the refracture rate in both the tibia and the femur. Social integration of the children was reflected by the fact that among the 12 OI congenita cases, ten were attending regular educational institutions. Twelve OI tarda children fared well, all attaining complete independence in daily living, mobility and ambulation. Seven of this group were treated with intramedullary rodding of the femur or tibia and with plastic orthoses. Five patients required no treatment.

Reliability and comparison of weight-bearing ability during standing tasks for individuals with chronic stroke.

date: 08/01/2002
author: Eng JJ, Chu KS.
publication: Arch Phys Med Rehabilitation. 2002 Aug;83(8):1138-44.
pubmed_ID: 12161837

OBJECTIVES: To determine the test-retest reliability over 2 separate days for weight-bearing ability during standing tasks in individuals with chronic stroke and to compare the weight-bearing ability among 5 standing tasks for the paretic and nonparetic limbs. DESIGN: Prospective study using a convenient sample. SETTING: Free-standing tertiary rehabilitation center. PARTICIPANTS: Fifteen community-dwelling stroke individuals with moderate motor deficits; volunteer sample. INTERVENTIONS: Not applicable. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Weight-bearing ability as measured by the vertical ground reaction force during 5 standing tasks (rising from a chair, quiet standing, weight-shifting forward, backward, laterally). RESULTS: The weight-bearing ability was less for the paretic limb compared with the nonparetic limb, but the intraclass correlation coefficients were high (.95-.99) for both limbs between the 2 sessions for all 5 tasks. The forward weight-shifting ability was particularly low in magnitude on the paretic side compared with the other weight-shifting tasks. In addition, the forward weight-shift ability of the nonparetic limb was also impaired but to a lesser extent. Large asymmetry was evident when rising from a chair, with the paretic limb bearing a mean 296N and the nonparetic side bearing a mean 458N. The weight-bearing ability during all 5 tasks correlated with one another (r range,.56-.94). CONCLUSIONS: Weight-bearing ability can be reliably measured and may serve as a useful outcome measure in individuals with stroke. We suggest that impairments of the hemiparetic side during forward weight shifting and sit-to-stand tasks presents a challenge to the motor systems of individuals with stroke, which may account for the poor balance that is often observed in these individuals. Copyright 2002 by the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine and the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Contractures secondary to immobility: is the restriction articular or muscular? An experimental longitudinal study in the rat knee.

date: 01/01/2000
author: Trudel G, Uhthoff HK.
publication: Arch Phys Med Rehabilitation. 2000 Jan;81(1):6-13.
pubmed_ID: 10638868

OBJECTIVES: To measure articular structures’ contribution to the limitation of range of motion after joint immobility. STUDY DESIGN: Experimental, controlled study involving 40 adult rats that had one knee joint immobilized in flexion for durations of 2, 4, 8, 16, and 32 weeks; 20 rats underwent a sham procedure. The angular displacement was measured both in flexion and extension at three different torques. Myotomy of transarticular muscles allowed isolation of the arthrogenic component of the contracture. RESULTS: A contracture developed in all immobilized knees. The articular structures were incrementally responsible for the limitation in range of motion (from 12.6 degrees +/-6.7 degrees at 2 weeks to 51.4 degrees +/-5.4 degrees at 32 weeks). The myogenic restriction proportionately decreased over time (from 20.1 degrees +/-8.4 degrees at 2 weeks to only 0.8 degrees +/-7.2 degrees at 32 weeks). The increase in the arthrogenic component of contracture was predominant in extension. CONCLUSION: This study quantified the increasing role of arthrogenic changes in limiting the range of motion of joints after immobility, especially as the period of immobility extended past 2 weeks. These data provide a better understanding of joint contracture development and can be used to guide therapeutic approaches.

Tilt table standing for reducing spasticity after spinal cord injury.

date: 10/01/1993
author: Bohannon RW
publication: Arch Physical Medicine Rehabilitation. 1993 Oct;74(10):1121-2.
pubmed_ID: 8215868

A patient with a T12 spinal cord injury and intractable extensor spasms of the lower extremities participated in tilt table standing trial on 5 nonconsecutive days to determine if the intervention would affect his spasticity and spasms. Each day’s standing trial was followed by an immediate reduction in lower extremity spasticity (measured using the modified Ashworth scale and pendulum testing). Standing was also accompanied by a reduction in spasms that lasted until the following morning. The reduction of spasms was particularly advantageous to the performance of car transfers. Tilt table standing merits further examination as a physical treatment of spasms that accompany central nervous system lesions.