Movement compensation after rotator cuff tear: What is safe and what is risky?

Project: Research project

Project Details


Rotator cuff tear is a common musculoskeletal injury that affects more than half of adults over the age of 60 years. This injury is disabling because it disrupts the distribution of muscle forces at the shoulder, causing individuals to develop compensatory movements when performing functional tasks. Some of these compensations could pose a risk for a secondary injury, but the associations between compensation strategies and secondary injury risk are not clear. The goal of this project is to develop a robust computational model of the shoulder to study the effect of a rotator cuff tear on movement compensation and injury risk. Outcomes from analyses performed with the model will highlight targets for design of rehabilitation strategies that promote movement compensation in ways that do not increase secondary injury risk. Research outcomes will also be translated into educational outreach activities at the University and K-12 levels, including adoption of modeling activities in the classroom and partnering with a local high school teacher for a Research Experience for Teachers, further broadening the impact of this work. Developing a model will help us improve our understanding of the functional effects of rotator cuff tear, including movement compensation and secondary shoulder injury risk. These outcomes will benefit the millions of adults in the US who experience movement limitations and secondary injury due to a rotator cuff tear.

The objectives of this study are to develop and validate a computational musculoskeletal model of the shoulder complex to characterize upper limb movement and identify mechanisms of injury after a rotator cuff tear. Existing models do not capture all articulations (scapulo-thoracic, glenohumeral translation) and soft tissue (ligament) contributions at the shoulder complex that are needed to fully understand the implications of injury. To achieve this, the current project will develop a biofidelic computational musculoskeletal model of the shoulder complex that includes detailed descriptions of joint articulations and soft tissue structures. Simulations with the model will be performed to characterize movement compensation in the context of rotator cuff tear and examine the associations between compensation and secondary injury risk. The modeling tool developed here will be used to inform our understanding of the functional effects of rotator cuff tear and expose targets for rehabilitation. This model will be made available to the community through an open-source software platform, providing a notable advancement for the biomechanics community and broadening the impact of this work.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Effective start/end date7/1/216/30/23


  • National Science Foundation: $238,118.00


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