Abstract

Measuring and documenting shoulder motion is important for many reasons, including diagnosis, determining the severity and progression of a disorder, assessing the results of treatment, and evaluating impairment. The AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment (AMA Guides), Sixth Edition provides guidance for the process of assessing abnormal motion of the shoulder, specifically Section 15.7a, Clinical Measurements of Motion, and Section 15.7g, Shoulder Motion. The shoulder has greater mobility than any other joint of the body, and movement there usually is composite rather than in a single plane; as a result, single movements are difficult to isolate. In the AMA Guides, universal goniometers with long arms are used to measure shoulder range of motion (ROM). Measurements of joint motion must be performed and recorded consistently because interrater reliability is reduced if instruments are incorrectly placed or if overlying soft tissue distorts the measurement. Active motion is obtained with full muscle force and cooperation after warm-up, and the ROM examination is performed by recording the active measurements from three separate ROM efforts. Patients may self-limit during the assessment of active range of motion or exert submaximal effort on manual strength testing because of pain and/or apprehension, so all measurements should fall within 10° of the mean and both sides should be tested.

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