Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Rehabilitation and Movement Science

First Advisor

Lori Michener


Rotator cuff disease is multi-factored and has been attributed to both intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Extrinsic factors contribute to compression of the rotator cuff tendons. Intrinsic factors that contribute to rotator cuff tendon degradation with tensile/shear overload include alterations in biology, mechanical properties, morphology, and vascularity. Subacromial impingement is related to factors that encroach upon the subacromial space, while internal impingement affects the articular side of the tendons adjacent to glenoid. While the mechanisms of impingement are varied, further research is necessary to improve treatment and patient outcomes. Chapter 2 is a thorough review of literature on the mechanisms of rotator cuff disease. Alterations in scapular kinematics may influence subacromial space and either contribute to the etiology of subacromial impingement with rotator cuff tendon compression or serve as a compensation to alleviate compression. Furthermore alterations in scapular position may directly influence rotator cuff muscle strength. Chapter 3 compares the influence of the scapular assistance test on scapular upward rotation, posterior tilt, subacromial space, and shoulder strength between healthy individuals and subjects with subacromial impingement syndrome. Scapular upward rotation and posterior tilt induced with scapular assistance test appears to influence subacromial space, but not shoulder muscle strength; however, the influence of these scapular rotations do not differ between asymptomatic individuals and those with subacromial impingement. Furthermore scapular posterior tilt appears to have a greater influence on increasing subacromial space and should be emphasized in the treatment of individuals with subacromial impingement. In chapter 4, we examine the influence that obvious scapular dyskinesis and passive scapular correction with the scapular assistance test have on 3D scapular kinematics and subacromial space. Scapular dyskinesis did not alter scapular kinematics or acromiohumeral distance during active elevation in static positions, in the scapular plane, and without a load when compared to those without scapular dyskinesis. This suggests other contributing factors, such as pain, increased load, or fatigue is requisite to alterations in scapular kinematics or AHD. Passive correction with the scapular assistance test increased scapular upward rotation, posterior tilt, and subacromial space in individuals with and without dyskinesis. In patients with obvious dyskinesis, there was a greater increase in scapular upward rotation with passive scapular assistance. This increased scapular upward rotation had a negative relationship with change in the acromiohumeral distance. The scapular dyskinesis test increased acromiohumeral distance and therefore may be helpful identifying individuals where subacromial compression is producing symptoms, regardless of dyskinesis. The results of this research suggest scapular kinematics and subacromial space are altered with the passive maneuver of the scapular assistance test in all individuals, regardless of subacromial impingement syndrome or scapular dyskinesis. Scapular dyskinesis alone may not be detrimental to scapular position and subacromial space when evaluated in static positions of active arm elevation. Other potential factors may be required to alter scapular kinematics to reduce subacromial space including pain, dynamic movement, load or fatigue. Further study is necessary to determine the influence of the combination of these factors in individuals with scapular dyskinesis.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

September 2010