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A new way of quantifying dominant upper-limb mobility in healthy and painful shoulders

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Introduction: Quantification of daily upper-limb activity is determinant in the evaluation of shoulder surgery. For a number of shoulder diseases, roblems in performing daily activities have been expressed in terms of upper-limb usage. Althought many instruments measure upper-limb movements, there is no accepted standard or widely used objective measure and no device to differenciate left or right shoulder usage. We present an objective method to measure the mobility and quantify the usage of dominant and healthy or painfull shoulder movement during daily life. Methods: 12 patients with unilateral pathological shoulder (rotator cuff disease) are compared to 18 control subjects (10 right and 8 left handed). Both SST and DASH questionnaires were completed by each one. Three inertial miniature modules including triaxial gyroscopes and accelerometers were fixed on the dorsal side of both humerus, and on the thorax. An ambulatory datalogger have recorded the signals during one day. Results: We observed that right handed healthy subjects used 18% and 26% more their dominant shoulder during respectively stand and sit postures while left handed subjects used 8% and 18% more their left side. In walking periods, shoulder mobility was quite alike for both sides. Patients affected on their dominant arm (PD group) mostly used their non-dominant side (respectively 5% and 9% during stand and sit). For the patients affected on their non-dominant shoulder (PND group), this difference is respectively 28% and 26%. Moreover, we can note that, during walking periods, a difference can be observed (on the contrary to controls). Patients used 13% and 15% more their nonpathologic side respectively for PD and PND groups. Conclusion: Inertial sensors, during long-term ambulatory monitoring of upper limbs, can quantify the difference between dominant and nondominant sides. Patients used more their non affected shoulder during daily life. For the PD group, the difference with control can be shown during walking. These results are very encouraging for future evaluation of patients with shoulder injuries since it can provide an objective evaluation of the shoulder mobility and of the treatment outcome during daily life.

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