Analysis of the effect of rotator cuff impingements on upper limb kinematics in an elderly population during activities of daily living


Despite a large prevalence of rotator cuff impingements and tears in the elderly populations, little research has focused on understanding how this population adapts to perform activities of daily living, or if shoulder function has a quantifiable association with living environment. Understanding how those living with un-repaired rotator cuff tears or impingements manage to complete activities of daily living, may help to keep these elderly individuals living independently, thus reducing the financial burden of long-term health care.


This research aims to:

  1. Identify kinematic differences between elderly mobile individuals (free from shoulder impingement) and elderly individuals with rotator cuff impingements during specific activities of daily living.
  2. Identify differences in shoulder range of motion between elderly mobile individuals (free from shoulder impingement) and elderly individuals with rotator cuff impingements.
  3. Link these differences by describing any mechanistic movement adaptations of the studied populations, if they exist.

Summary of findings

Thirty-two right-handed dominant older adults (over the age of 65) who were living independently without any assistance were recruited. This population has been exceedingly difficult to recruit, but efforts continue. Participants performed five active range of motion (ROM) tasks; flexion, extension, abduction, internal and external rotation. All participants also performed seven activities of daily living (ADL) tasks; eating with a spoon, hair combing, fixed height reach, reaching to a height scaled to torso length, perineal care, washing the axilla and lifting a grocery bag.

We expect to find that impinged elderly individuals living independently may have adapted their kinematics in order to complete activities of daily living despite their injury. We also anticipate that healthy (non-impinged) elderly individuals will have greater shoulder range of motion than impinged individuals for all conditions (abduction, flexion, internal and external rotation), as well as the ability to complete all tasks. Our early results point towards this trend, but additional participants are required to attain statistical power.

Project members: 
Undergraduate Fellow
Faculty Supervisor
Project time line: 
May, 2012 to August, 2012
Last updated: January 08, 2017