The effects of a rotator cuff tear on activities of daily living in older adults: A kinematic analysis

Meghan E. Vidt, Anthony C. Santago, Anthony P. Marsh, Eric J. Hegedus, Christopher J. Tuohy, Gary G. Poehling, Michael T. Freehill, Michael E. Miller, Katherine R. Saul

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Rotator cuff tears (RCT) in older individuals may compound age-associated physiological changes and impact their ability to perform daily functional tasks. Our objective was to quantify thoracohumeral kinematics for functional tasks in 18 older adults (mean age=63.3±2.2), and compare findings from nine with a RCT to nine matched controls. Motion capture was used to record kinematics for 7 tasks (axilla wash, forward reach, functional pull, hair comb, perineal care, upward reach to 90°, upward reach to 105°) spanning the upper limb workspace. Maximum and minimum joint angles and motion excursion for the three thoracohumeral degrees of freedom (elevation plane, elevation, axial rotation) were identified for each task and compared between groups. The RCT group used greater minimum elevation angles for axilla wash and functional pull (p≤0.0124) and a smaller motion excursion for functional pull (p=0.0032) compared to the control group. The RCT group also used a more internally rotated maximum axial rotation angle than controls for functional reach, functional pull, hair comb, and upward reach to 105° (p≤0.0494). The most differences between groups were observed for axial rotation, with the RCT group using greater internal rotation to complete functional tasks, and significant differences between groups were identified for all three thoracohumeral degrees of freedom for functional pull. We conclude that older adults with RCT used more internal rotation to perform functional tasks than controls. The kinematic differences identified in this study may have consequences for progression of shoulder damage and further functional impairment in older adults with RCT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)611-617
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 29 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biophysics
  • Rehabilitation
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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