The effect of shoulder immobilization on balance in community-dwelling older adults

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

Purpose: Shoulder immobilization devices are commonly used in the treatment of older adults following proximal humeral fractures. Immobilization of the shoulder may have a negative effect on balance, which could increase risk for falls. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of shoulder immobilization on balance in the community-dwelling older adult population as measured by the Berg Balance Scale (BBS). Methods: Fifty-three subjects (14 men and 39 women, mean age = 75.4 years) participated in the study. The BBS was administered twice to each participant. Subjects were tested once while wearing a shoulder immobilizer and once without a shoulder immobilizer. The immobilizer positioned the elbow at 90° of flexion and anchored the arm to the trunk. The Wilcoxon signed-ranks test was used to evaluate differences in BBS scores. A 2-tailed test was performed with α set at .05. Results: Mean (SD) BBS scores were 53 (4.0) without the immobilizer and 52 (4.7) with the immobilizer. BBS change scores (score with immobilizer minus score without immobilizer) ranged from +1 to -7, with a mean change score of -1.02. The Wilcoxon signed-ranks test indicated a significant difference between paired observations (negative ranks = 29, positive ranks = 6, P < .0001). Balance was impaired (significantly lower BBS scores) when subjects wore the device compared with the testing sessions without the device. Conclusions: The results indicate that immobilizing the shoulder may have a negative effect on balance as measured by the BBS. If shoulder immobilization places an individual at greater risk for falls, early balance screening by a physical therapist to determine the appropriateness of a fall prevention program may be indicated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)118-121
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Geriatric Physical Therapy
Volume33
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2010

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Independent Living
Immobilization
Nonparametric Statistics
Equipment and Supplies
Shoulder Fractures
Physical Therapists
Elbow
Arm

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Rehabilitation
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

Cite this

The effect of shoulder immobilization on balance in community-dwelling older adults. / Coleman, Frances; Clifft, Judy.

In: Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy, Vol. 33, No. 3, 01.07.2010, p. 118-121.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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