Spending time standing on a special vibration plate may lead to stronger bones, better mobility and an improved outlook for those with cerebral palsy, a new study suggests.

Researchers say that after 20 weeks of what’s called whole-body vibration training, kids and young adults with cerebral palsy saw a range of benefits.

For the study, 40 individuals ages 11 to 20 with the developmental disability stood on the vibration plate for nine minutes a day, four times a week.

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“We expected them to increase their bone mass and muscle mass, which is what happened. What we didn’t expect was that their day-to-day functioning would also improve,” said Silmara Gusso of the University of Auckland in New Zealand who led the study published online this month in the journal Scientific Reports.

“The feedback from parents and carers about the changes they were noticing was especially encouraging: improved mood, greater maneuverability and fewer falls,” Gusso said. “Confidence improved: kids who used to walk around holding onto rails are now walking around the school with their chins up.”

Some of the young people in the study were able to walk 30 percent farther in a six-minute test at the end of the sessions, researchers said. What’s more, the treatment appeared to ease constipation issues.

During the therapy, individuals stand barefoot on a special vibration plate, which makes a see-saw movement similar to walking. Researchers believe that the activity boosts communication between the muscles and spine.

It’s not clear whether the positive effects of vibration therapy persist after the sessions are complete. But, those behind the study – the largest to date on the therapy – say it holds great promise, especially given the limited treatment options currently available for those with cerebral palsy.

“It’s something simple that can help a lot of kids,” Gusso said.

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