Vibratory feedback can be a useful tool for rehabilitation. We examined its use in children with dystonia to understand how it affects muscle activity in a population that does not respond well to standard rehabilitation. We predicted scaled vibration (ie, vibration that was directly or inversely proportional to muscle activity) would increase use of the vibrated muscle because of task-relevant sensory information, whereas nonscaled vibration would not change muscle use. The study was conducted on 11 subjects with dystonia and 14 controls. Each subject underwent 4 different types of vibration on the more dystonic biceps muscle (or nondominant arm in controls) in a 1-dimensional, bimanual myocontrol task. Our results showed that only scaled vibratory feedback could bias muscle use without changing overall performance in children with dystonia. We believe there may be a role in rehabilitation for scaled vibratory feedback to retrain abnormal muscle patterns.
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