International Orthopaedics

, Volume 42, Issue 11, pp 2645–2651 | Cite as

The contribution of the scapula to active shoulder motion and self-assessed function in three hundred and fifty two patients prior to elective shoulder surgery

  • Jason E. Hsu
  • David Andrew Hulet
  • Chris McDonald
  • Anastasia Whitson
  • Stacy M. Russ
  • Frederick A. MatsenIIIEmail author
Original Paper



Scapular motion is an important component of shoulder function. This study determined the contribution of the scapula to active shoulder motion in control subjects and patients with loss of shoulder function.


The Kinect system was used to assess active scapulothoracic (ST) and humerothoracic (HT) abduction in 12 controls and in 352 patients before elective shoulder surgery.


For the controls, ST abduction averaged 26 ± 7° or 19% of the active HT abduction (135 ± 5°). For the 352 patients having elective surgery, active ST abduction averaged 12 ± 10°, or 17% of the active HT abduction (72 ± 38). For 10 of the 12 SST functions, patients unable to perform the function had significantly less scapulothoracic abduction, e.g., shoulders unable to lift one pound to shoulder level had 9 ± 8° of ST abduction in contrast to 17 ± 10 for those able to perform this function (p < .001).


Scapulothoracic motion is an important component of active shoulder motion and function in both healthy shoulders and in those compromised by common pathologies. This study suggests that rehabilitation directed at improving active scapulothoracic motion may improve the function of shoulders with loss of glenohumeral motion.

Level of evidence

Level III Prognostic Study


Active scapulothoracic motion Active humerothoracic motion Self-assessed shoulder function Kinect motion capture system Elective surgery Control subjects 



We would like to thank Susan DeBartolo (University of Washington, Department of Orthopedics and Sports Medicine) for her editorial work on the manuscript. Study data were collected and managed using Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap) hosted at the Institute of Translational Health Sciences (ITHS). REDCap at ITHS is supported by the National Center For Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number UL1 TR002319.

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This was a retrospective cohort study approved by our Institutional Review Board (IRB #STUDY00002295). For this type of study, formal consent is not required.

Informed consent


Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© SICOT aisbl 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Orthopedics and Sports MedicineUniversity of Washington Medical CenterSeattleUSA
  2. 2.School of MedicineUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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