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.
author: Stevenson RD.
publication: Dev Med Child Neurol. 1996 Sep;38(9):855-60.
The clinical assessment of growth is a challenging, but essential, aspect of managing the health care of children with developmental disabilities. However, with standard equipment, modest training and some patience, almost all children can be measured reliably. Once reliable measurements are obtained, the interpretation or ‘clinical meaning’ of the measurements depends on their comparison with reference data from normal populations or, when available, with condition-specific reference data. More research is needed to improve our understanding of the clinical meaning of obtained measurements. The range of normal growth for some children with disabilities, particularly CP, remains to be defined. Research in the next ten years will, hopefully, lead to the development of growth charts for children with CP, and perhaps children with other conditions, which will facilitate the clinical interpretation of growth data and lead to improved management of health care for children with developmental disabilities.
author: van den Tillaar R.
publication: J Strength Cond Res. 2006 Feb;20(1):192-6.
Muscle strain is one of the most common injuries, resulting in a decreased range of motion (ROM) in this group of muscles. Systematic stretching over a period of time is needed to increase the ROM. The purpose of this study was to determine if whole-body vibration (WBV) training would have a positive effect on flexibility training (contract-release method) and thereby on the ROM of the hamstring musculature. In this study, 19 undergraduate students in physical education (12 women and 7 men, age 21.5 +/- 2.0 years) served as subjects and were randomly assigned to either a WBV group or a control group. Both groups stretched systematically 3 times per week for 4 weeks according to the contract-release method, which consists of a 5-second isometric contraction with each leg 3 times followed by 30 seconds of static stretching. Before each stretching exercise, the WBV group completed a WBV program consisting of standing in a squat position on the vibration platform with the knees bent 90 degrees on the Nemes Bosco system vibration platform (30 seconds at 28 Hz, 10-mm amplitude, 6 times per training session). The results show that both groups had a significant increase in hamstring flexibility. However, the WBV group showed a significantly larger increase (30%) in ROM than did the control group (14%). These results indicate that WBV training may have an extra positive effect on flexibility of the hamstrings when combined with the contract-release stretching method.
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.
We monitored the result of a tilt table-wedge board routine on the passive ankle dorsiflexion of 20 patients consecutively to determine the effectiveness of the treatment. The calculated frequency of the treatment, which was applied for 30 minutes on each of 5 to 22 treatment days, ranged from 2.3 to 6.4 treatments a week. All patients demonstrated increased passive ankle dorsiflexion. The increases ranged from 3 to 17 degrees and occurred at a calculated rate of 0.11 to 1.0 degrees a day. We believe the treatment is an effective clinical method for increasing passive ankle dorsiflexion in neurologically involved patients.
author: Harvey LA, Byak AJ, Ostrovskaya M, Glinsky J, Katte L, Herbert RD.
publication: Aust J Physiother. 2003;49(3):176-81.
The aim of this assessor-blind randomised controlled trial was to determine the effect of four weeks of 30 minute stretches each weekday on extensibility of the hamstring muscles in people with recent spinal cord injuries. A consecutive sample of 16 spinal cord-injured patients with no or minimal voluntary motor power in the lower limbs and insufficient hamstring muscle extensibility to enable optimal long sitting were recruited. Subjects’ legs were randomly allocated to experimental and control conditions. The hamstring muscles of the experimental leg of each subject were stretched with a 30 Nm torque at the hip for 30 minutes each weekday for four weeks. The hamstring muscles of the contralateral leg were not stretched during this period. Extensibility of the hamstring muscles (hip flexion range of motion with knee extended, measured with a 48 Nm torque at the hip) of both legs was measured by a blinded assessor at the commencement of the study and one day after the completion of the four-week stretch period. Changes in hamstring muscle extensibility from initial to final measurements were calculated. The effect of stretching was expressed as the mean difference in these changes between stretched and non-stretched legs. The mean effect of stretching was 1 degree (95% CI -2 to 5 degrees). Four weeks of 30 minute stretches each weekday does not affect the extensibility of the hamstring muscle in people with spinal cord injuries.
author: Kunkel CF, Scremin AM, Eisenberg B, Garcia JF, Roberts S, Martinez S.
publication: Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1993 Jan;74(1):73-8.
The effect of “standing” in a frame on spasticity (clinical assessment and H-reflex), contracture (lower extremity joint range of motion), and osteoporosis (dual photon absorptiometry) was studied in six paralyzed males (mean age 49 yr) who had been confined to wheelchairs for an average of 19 years. Standing time averaged 144 hours over a mean of 135 days. Clinical Assessment measured reflexes, tone, and clonus in the legs. Results revealed no important differences between initial and final scores for clinical assessment and joint range of motion. In three subjects for whom H-reflexes were found, latency and amplitude were not altered by “standing.” Bone density was normal in the lumbar spine but significantly reduced in the femoral neck. “Standing” did not modify the bone density in any site. A follow-up interview revealed that 67% of subjects continued to “stand” and felt healthier because of it. In summary, “standing” had no ill effects, did not alter measured variables, and had a positive psychological impact.
We studied the short term effects of a single session of prolonged muscle stretch (PMS) on reflex and voluntary muscle activations in 22 children with spastic cerebral palsy (CP) assigned to an experimental (n = 12) and a control group (n = 10). Children of the experimental group underwent PMS of the triceps surae (TS) by standing with the feet dorsiflexed on a tilt-table for 30 min, whereas children of the control group were kept at rest. The effects were determined by measuring the associated changes in torque and in electromyographic (EMG) activity of the TS and tibialis anterior (TA) muscles during both passive ankle movements and maximal static voluntary contractions. The results indicate that PMS led to reduced spasticity in ankle muscles as demonstrated by the significant reductions (p less than 0.05) of the neuromuscular responses (torque and EMG) to passive movement. These inhibitory effects lasted up to 35 min after cessation of PMS. In addition, the capacity to voluntarily activate the plantar flexors was significantly (p less than 0.05) increased post-PMS, but the capacity to activate the dorsiflexors was apparently not affected. These findings suggest that repeated sessions of PMS may have beneficial effects in the management of spasticity in children with CP.
author: Odeen I, Knutsson E.
publication: Scand J Rehabilitation Medicine. 1981;13(4):117-21.
Clinical observations on patients with spastic paraplegia have indicated that a training regime including weight load on the lower limbs may reduce the muscular hypertonus. Due to the spontaneous fluctuations and great variability in muscle tone it is difficult to judge from clinical findings how the effects may be related to muscle stretch and weight load. Therefore, quantitative determination of the effects on muscle tone by stretch and loading was made in 9 paraplegic patients. Muscle tone was measured before and after 30 min of stretch or weight load in 8 sessions on 4 consecutive days. Stretch was obtained by bracing the foot in maximal dorsal flexion with patient in supine position. For weight load on the lower limbs, the patient stood on a tilt-table at an angle of 85 degrees with feet in 15 degrees dorsal or plantar flexion. Resistance to passive movements was determined during a series of sinusoidal ankle joint movements at three different speeds. After weight load in standing with the feet in dorsal or plantar flexion, the average reduction was 32 and 26%, respectively. After stretch in supine, the average reduction was 17%. Thus, the three procedures tested all resulted in reduction of muscle tone. The largest reductions were obtained by weight load with stretch imposed upon the calf muscles.
author: Trudel G, Uhthoff HK, Brown M.
publication: Arch Phys Med Rehabilitation. 1999 Dec;80(12):1542-7.
OBJECTIVES: To test the hypotheses that contractures progress at different rates in relation to the time after immobilization, that immobilization in flexion leads to loss of extension range of motion, and that joints of sham-operated animals are better controls than the contralateral joint of experimental animals. STUDY DESIGN: Experimental, controlled study in which 40 adult rats had one knee joint immobilized at 135 degrees of flexion for up to 32 weeks and 20 animals underwent a sham procedure. At intervals of 2, 4, 8, 16, and 32 weeks, 8 experimental and 4 sham-operated animals were killed and their knee motion measured in flexion and extension. RESULTS: In the experimental group, the range of motion decreased in the first 16 weeks of immobility at an average rate of 3.8 degrees per week (p<.0001) to reach 61.1 degrees of restriction. A plateau was then observed from which the contracture did not progress further. The loss in range of motion occurred in extension, not in flexion. CONCLUSION: This study defined an acute stage of contractures starting at the onset of immobility and lasting 16 weeks, during which the range of motion was progressively restricted, and a chronic stage during which no additional limitation was detected. The loss in motion was attributed to posterior knee structures not under tension during immobilization in flexion. Contrary to the hypothesis, the contralateral joint was validated as a control choice for range-of-motion experiments.