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How shoulder immobilization influences daily physical activity — an accelerometer based preliminary study

from BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders

The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of shoulder immobilization on daily physical activity. The harmful effect of sedentary behavior does not receive much attention in orthopedic surgery even though immobilization, especially of the lower extremity, has been associated with reduced physical activity. Immobilization of the shoulder is common after reconstructive shoulder surgery and could also potentially lead to reduced physical activity and have a negative effect on a patient’s general health. Twenty-one healthy volunteers were immobilized in an orthosis (DJO Ultrasling III) for 10 hours on two consecutive days. In the following week, activity was measured on the same days without the orthosis. Activity including gait cycles per minute and total gait cycles per day was measured by accelerometer based step count StepWatchTMActivity Monitor. Average age was 26 +/− 3 years. A questionnaire was administered to evaluate subjective activity. Participants wearing the shoulder orthosis were significantly less active than without immobilization by 2,227.5 gait cycles/day (5,501.2 with SO, 7,728.7 without SO). Also, significantly more time in sedentary behavior occurred (< 400 steps/h) when the shoulder was immobilized. Patients were significantly more active without shoulder orthosis in medium level activities (800–999 steps/h). Differences for low (400–799 steps/h) and high activity levels (> 1,000 steps/h) were not statistically significant. Subjective limitations while wearing the orthosis were graded at 2.343 on a scale of 0–4. Results of this study show that even in young, healthy volunteers immobilization of the shoulder in an orthosis for two days leads to significantly reduced activity levels. A negative influence on general health, especially in older patients who are immobilized for up to 6 weeks, can potentially occur. Promoting physical activity during the immobilization period should be part of rehabilitation after injuries/surgery of the shoulder. more


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