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Date of Award


Degree Type

Thesis (On-Campus Access Only)

Degree Name

Master of Physical Therapy (MPT)

First Advisor

Nancy Cicirello, MPH, PT

Second Advisor

Ann Williams, PhD, PT


Five hundred people with spinal cord injuries (SCIs) were surveyed to determine the prevalence of shoulder pain and the relationships between shoulder pain and number of years since SCI and between shoulder pain and activity level. Of the 190 respondents, 44% reported current shoulder pain, and 70% reported having shoulder pain at some point since their SCI. There was a positive relationship between both duration and intensity of shoulder pain and number of years post-SCI. Persons with current shoulder pain tend to be older than those without pain. Moreover, the duration and frequency of shoulder pain increased with age. Activity level, as measured by the number of transfers per day and hours per week of vigorous activity, was inversely related to shoulder pain. Also, those persons involved in wheelchair sports were less likely to have current shoulder pain. Practical implications and suggestions for further research are discussed.


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