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Man Ther. 2003 Nov;8(4):195-206.

Dynamic evaluation and early management of altered motor control around the shoulder complex.

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  • 1Discipline of Physiotherapy, School of Health Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia.


Altered dynamic control appears to be a significant contributing factor to shoulder dysfunction. The shoulder relies primarily on the rotator cuff for dynamic stability through mid-range. Hence, any impairment in the dynamic stabilizing system is likely to have profound effects on the shoulder complex. The rotator cuff appears to function as a deep stabilizer, similar to the transversus abdominus and vastus medialis obliquus, with some evidence of disruption to its stabilizing function in the presence of pain. Similarly, serratus anterior appears to function as a dynamic stabilizer, also demonstrating altered function in painful shoulders. Examination of dynamic control begins with a detailed examination of posture, evaluation of natural movement patterns and functional movements and assessment of the specific force couples relevant to shoulder function. One useful strategy in management of altered motor control related to these force couples is that of training isolated contraction of the rotator cuff prior to introduction of loaded activity, together with facilitation and training of appropriate scapular muscle force couples--serratus anterior and trapezius, in relation to arm elevation.

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