Shoulder pain and ultrasound findings: A comparison study of wheelchair athletes, nonathletic wheelchair users, and nonwheelchair users

Jennifer A. Soo Hoo, Hyungtaek Kim, Julia Fram, Yen Sheng Lin, Christopher Page, Imaani Easthausen, Prakash Jayabalan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Shoulder pain is one of the most common musculoskeletal concerns in manual wheelchair users including among athletes. However, there is a paucity of research characterizing both shoulder pain and shoulder pathology in this population. Objective: To characterize and compare the prevalence of current shoulder pain and ultrasound metrics of shoulder pathology between wheelchair athletes, nonathletic wheelchair users, and nonwheelchair users. Design: Cross-sectional. Setting: Chicago-area adaptive sport teams/programs and musculoskeletal clinics. Participants: Thirty-four wheelchair athletes, six nonathletic wheelchair users, and 12 nonwheelchair users. Methods: Self-reported shoulder pain was assessed by questionnaire and Wheelchair User Shoulder Pain Index (WUSPI). Shoulder physiology and pathology were assessed by physical and ultrasound evaluation of both shoulders by a sports medicine physician. Main Outcome Measures: Questionnaire outcomes: Prevalence of current shoulder pain, total WUSPI score. Physical examination outcomes: total Physical Examination of Shoulder Scale (PESS) score. Sonographic outcomes: Acromiohumeral distance (AHD) and presence of shoulder pathology. Results: The majority of wheelchair athletes (68%) and nonathletic wheelchair users (67%) experienced shoulder pain since using a manual wheelchair. Wheelchair basketball players had a mean WUPSI score of 17.2 (SD = 21.8), and athletes participating in handcycling, sled hockey, and quad rugby had mean scores of 4.91 (SD = 8.32), 7.76 (SD = 13.1), and 4.29 (SD = 7.75), respectively. Shoulder pathology was observed in 14 of 31 (45%) wheelchair athletes and 4 of 6 (67%) nonathletic wheelchair users (p =.41). Conclusions: Although wheelchair use is a risk factor for shoulder pain, participation in amateur wheelchair sports may not be associated with increased risk of shoulder pain. It is possible that overhead sports such as wheelchair basketball may define a unique high-risk group. Further study is needed to examine this relationship and to determine whether there are differences between specific wheelchair sports.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)551-560
Number of pages10
JournalPM and R
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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