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Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2008 May;109(2):285-95. Epub 2007 Jul 11.

Effectiveness of a self-administered, home-based exercise rehabilitation program for women following a modified radical mastectomy and axillary node dissection: a preliminary study.

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  • 1Department of Exercise Science, The Richard J. Renaud Science Complex, Concordia University, Montreal, QC, Canada.



This pilot study examined the effects of a self-administered, home-based exercise (HBE) rehabilitation programme designed to help women regain shoulder mobility immediately following surgery for a modified radical mastectomy and axillary node dissection.


Twenty-seven women who were scheduled for surgery were randomly assigned to either a post-surgical experimental HBE rehabilitation group (n = 16) or a usual care group (UC; n = 11). Women assigned to the HBE group followed an 11 day (days 3-14 post-surgery), home-based rehabilitation programme consisting of shoulder flexibility and stretching exercises that were described on videotape. The videotape programme was modelled after the exercises and guidelines described in a brochure produced by the Canadian Cancer Society.


As a result of the exercise programme intervention, there was a time x group interaction indicating that the HBE group demonstrated a significantly greater increase in shoulder flexion range of motion (ROM) (p = 0.003) and abduction ROM (p = 0.036) when compared to the UC. There were no statistical differences in shoulder strength between groups over time. External rotation (p = 0.036) and grip strength (p = 0.001) significantly increased in both groups during the intervention period but there were no interaction effects. With respect to the forearm circumferences, there was a significant decrease over time (p < 0.001) but no interaction between groups.


This HBE rehabilitation programme is an effective way to improve shoulder mobility and ROM during the immediate 2-week recovery period following surgery.

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