Article: Boyd-Brewer, Chris. Vibroacoustic Therapy- Sound Vibrations in Medicine. Alternative & Complimentary Therapies. October 2003. New York
Vibroacoustic therapy is a healing technology that uses sound in the audible range to produce mechanical vibrations that are applied directly to the body. The sound frequencies that are inputted into vibroacoustic devices become mechanical vibrations felt by the body. The sounds used can be either pure sounds (sine waves) or music. Vibroacoustic therapy heals through physiologically felt vibrations in conjunction with the auditory effects of music or sound.
Vibroacoustic equipment was developed between 1970 and 1990. In 1970, Norwegian therapist and educator, Olav Skille, developed the first vibroacoustic chair after experimenting on children with severe physical and mental handicaps, with low frequency sounds between 30 and 120 Hz. Since then other innovators and inventors in this field have been Finnish Petri Lehikoinen, and Americans Byron Eakin and Kris Chesky.
There are four different ways that the sound vibrations can be processed in vibroacoustic, all having different effects on how the vibrations are felt. “Pulsed sounds” occur when two close frequencies are blended together (eg 70Hz and 70.5 Hz). “Pulsation variations” occur when the amplitude, or volume, of the specific frequency is changed (Having the same amplitude for too long could cause muscle contractions). “Scanning” is a method that affects specific muscles. The theory is that each muscle responds to a specific frequency, and in scanning, specific muscles are targeted within a scanning frequency spectrum. The frequency spectrum would ensure that the muscle is targeted. Finally, “directionality” refers to movement of sound frequencies from one speaker to another, resulting in a vibration up and down the body.
It has been shown that the use of both music and sound frequencies in vibroacoustics strengthens the treatment beyond that of just sound vibrations as it creates a powerful synergy of integrating physiological sound vibration and psychological stimulation from music listening.
There are three basic vibroacoustic systems:
1. Full frequency music (FFM)
This is the least expensive and easiest system to use, thus most popular. However, felt vibrations cannot be measured or monitored, neither at source or delivery point. Thus doses cannot be determined, and from all three vibroacoustic systems, FFM has the most limited capability in specific treatment.
Uses: relaxation, reducing anxiety, assisting in pain management, facilitating in physical therapy.
Features: will play any music, but most useful if the music was specifically composed for FFM.
2. Selected low frequency system (SLF)
This is treatment with vibrations associated with selected low-frequency sounds- sine waves (20-135 Hz). SLF can be used with or without music.
Uses: provides relaxation and treats pain and disorders.
Special feature: some SLF systems can measure vibration parameters at source point (but not at delivery point or the vibratory surface)
3. Quantified mechanical vibration systems (QMV)
This system is the most complex of the three, but the most suited to treat specific disorders and pain. In QMV, doses of frequencies which will reach patient can be measured (ie. QMV can quantify frequency vibration at delivery point, or surface, rather than at source point). This system also has improved membrane resonance and more even distribution of vibrations across the vibrating surface, thus increasing dosage accuracy.
Uses: intended to treat pain and other disorders.
Vibroacoustic treatment has been shown to have many positive effects. For one thing, it has been shown to reduce anxiety and help create relaxation. Many patients with a variety of medical conditions, including cancer, heart, lung and blood disorders, infectious diseases, and mood disorders, have been exposed to vibroacoustic therapy, and the resulting anxiety reduction and relaxation has alleviated many stress-induced symptoms such as tension, fatigue, nausea, depression and pain.
Vibroacoustic treatment has also had much success in physical therapy, especially in reducing muscle tone in cerebral palsy patients, thus increasing range of motion. Furthermore, it helps with pain management and associated tension after surgical treatment, as well as reducing patient anxiety during medical procedures. In general, it reduces the need for pain medication by alleviating many painful symptoms.
Although the article states that Vibroacoustical therapy does not work in certain cases, in many cases it does. It does not seem to be a treatment that as yet offers cures for many diseases, but what it does is very significant. By alleviating many symptoms and side effects of diseases, it makes the whole process much more bearable, and improves quality of life for the suffering. I am one who believes that state of mind and being affects health. (In essence, stress can lead to illnesses, while being a more relaxed person leads to a healthier life). It follows that if painful symptoms and stresses can be alleviated, a person’s state of being will help them to heal. Furthermore, as there are no harmful side effects of vibroacoustic therapy, and it is non-invasive and pleasant, I think it is a good treatment option to continue developing and researching. I also found the three different systems of vibroacoustic therapy very interesting, that more and less complex systems exist.