This is a part of the Hot Topic podcast series from the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center on Managing Pain After Spinal Cord Injury. This video discusses Shoulder Exercises for People with Spinal Cord Injury.

Up to seventy-eight percent of spinal cord injury patients using hand-propelled wheelchairs experience should pain.

PROVIDER: Mario, we’re going to be showing you how to do the exercises today.

There’s no single treatment for the pain linked to sci but by working with the health care team, patients may get relief from physical therapy, massage, psychological treatment, or medication. And the new South Florida study is exploring whether exercise can reduce pain as well.

We’re hoping to show that the exercises help lessen or totally get rid of the pain for them just by strengthening the muscles and the tendons in the shoulder.

Patients with spinal cord injuries should get expert medical guidance before exercising. Mario starts with a series of warm-up stretches.

PROVIDER: So we’re going to do all the exercises with your left arm, and we’re going to start with some warm-up stretches. So I want you to bring your arm back behind you here, and you’re going to hold it for thirty seconds and you’ll do that three times, okay? And then you’re going to come up and take this arm across your head, and stretch here. And the last one is you’re going to bring this one across your body and you’re going to stretch your triceps like this. After the stretches comes a four-step exercise routine.

PROVIDER: The first one is going to be here, with your arm holding the weight, you’re going to have your arm in the line of your scapula, and you’re going to do shoulder elevations. So you’re going to start with your arm down at your side and bring it up to shoulder level. And you’re going to do that 15 times, and three sets.

MARIO: Shoulder level?

PROVIDER: So the next one is shoulder rotation, so what you want to do is make sure you put a towel roll here and then you’re going to rotate out your shoulder, and you’re going to do eight reps of those for three sets.

MARIO: I can hold onto the wheelchair for balance?

PROVIDER: Yes. Okay so Mario, for the next exercise you’re going to take the band and put one end in the door frame, and the other one, your arm through it behind your elbow. You’re going to grab a hold and you’re going to do scapular retractions. So you’re going to pull back and relax, pull back and relax for three sets of fifteen.

PROVIDER: So the last one is called horizontal adduction. You’re going to take your strap and mount it in the door frame again and you’re going to reach your arm up, grab the strap, and you’re going to bring it diagonally down across your body. So you’re going to come up, stretch, and then down across the body. You’re going to do eight repetitions for three sets.

Mario then practiced the routine at home for 12 weeks. Although the study is ongoing and results haven’t been announced, he feels that the exercises have made a big difference.

MARIO: As I started doing it, I just got addicted to it and it was a routine. I felt better when after I did it. I felt a better stretch. I felt after a couple weeks that there were a little bit more improvement, and in the middle of the night when I wake up, if I go shift my body weight, I noticed my shoulder wasn’t getting as much... as much stress as they had gotten before I was involved in the study.

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