Purpose: To analyze the effectiveness of a 6-month exercise protocol on shoulder pain experienced by wheelchair users during functional activities.
Subjects: Forty-two wheelchair users, 35 males and seven females: average age of 35 years and an average duration of wheelchair use of 14 years.
Methods: Subjects were randomly assigned to treatment (n=21) and control (n=21) groups. The treatment group received instruction in five shoulder exercises which they performed daily for 6 months. The exercise protocol included two exercises for stretching anterior shoulder musculature and three exercises for strengthening posterior shoulder musculature.
Outcome measures: All subjects completed a self-report questionnaire and the Wheelchair Users Shoulder Pain Index (WUSPI) initially and at bimonthly intervals during the 6-month intervention.
Results: Seventy-five per cent of the subjects reported a history of shoulder pain since beginning wheelchair use. The average initial performance-corrected (PC-WUSPI) score of the 42 subjects was 17.7 (+/-21.3) with a range of 0-103.2 points. Over 83% of the subjects (35 of 42) completed the 6-month study. Subjects in the treatment group decreased their PC-WUSPI score by an average of 39.9%, compared to decreases of only 2.5% in the control group.
Conclusions: These findings supported the effectiveness of this exercise protocol in decreasing the intensity of shoulder pain which interferes with functional activity in wheelchair users.