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Can self-report instruments of shoulder function capture functional differences in older adults with and without a rotator cuff tear?

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

Setting the scene:

Rotator cuff tears (RCT) are a common musculoskeletal injury affecting older adults. The physiological changes (muscle atrophy, decreased strength) associated with RCT may further diminish one’s ability to perform ADLs. Self- report instruments have been developed to assess a patient’s self-perceived functional status and can aid clinicians in the diagnosis and treatment decision- making process. The purpose of this study was to evaluate If these self-report measures of shoulder function could distinguish between older adults with and without a RCT; or were related to physical symptoms associated with RCT or were related to one another.

What did they do?

25 subjects participated 13 with RCT and 12 healthy asymptomatic controls. Each subject completed three self-report instruments of shoulder function, the Simple Shoulder Test (SST), the American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons Shoulder Outcome Survey (ASES), and the Western Ontario Rotator Cuff Index (WORC). And the Short Form Health Survey (SF-36). Maximal voluntary isometric joint moment and active, pain-free range of motion (ROM) at the shoulder were also measured. Relationships among functional self-reports, and between these measures and joint moment and ROM were assessed. The results showed that these instruments can distinguish between groups in these older subjects, with RCT subjects reporting worse total and subcategory scores on the self-report measures of shoulder function. Significant correlations were seen between self-report measures of shoulder function and the SF-36 and these instruments were also associated with physical symptoms of a RCT.

Takeaway message:

These self-report measures can be used in assessing older patients with shoulder problems (rotator cuff tear).

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