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J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 1999 Apr;29(4):225-31.

Shoulder pain in female wheelchair basketball players.

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Department of Physical Therapy, School of Health and Human Services, California State University, Fresno 93740-8031, USA.



Descriptive self-report survey.


To assess activity level, medical history, and the prevalence and intensity of shoulder and upper extremity pain experienced during functional activities in female athletes who compete in wheelchairs.


Previous studies have documented a high incidence of upper extremity soft tissue disorders in athletes who compete in wheelchairs. None of these studies have specifically focused on female athletes who use wheelchairs.


Forty-six female wheelchair basketball players completed an anonymous survey that included demographic data, medical history data, and the Wheelchair User's Shoulder Pain Index (WUSPI). The WUSPI is a valid and reliable self-report measure scored from 0 to 150, with higher scores indicating a greater intensity of shoulder pain during functional activities.


The average age of the respondents was 33.2 (+/- 9.1) years, with an average of 12.5 (+/- 10.2) years of wheelchair use. Their disabilities included 39% spinal cord injury, 28% various lower extremity musculoskeletal and neuromuscular disabilities, 13% postpolio paralysis, 11% spina bifida, and 9% amputations. Only 14% of the subjects reported shoulder pain prior to wheelchair use. In contrast, 72% of the subjects reported shoulder pain since wheelchair use, with 52% reporting current shoulder pain. Overall, the subjects scored an average +/- SD performance-corrected total WUSPI score of 15.6 +/- 20.5 on a scale of 0 to 150 points, with 0 representing no pain. The highest intensity of shoulder pain was reported during household chores, propulsion on ramps or inclines, lifting overhead, and while sleeping.


Shoulder and upper extremity pain was a very common problem reported by over 90% of the subjects in this study. Prevention of pain and chronic disability in athletes who use wheelchairs should be addressed by coaches, players, and health care professionals.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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