Original Article| Volume 28, ISSUE 2, P346-351, March 2023

The influence of three-dimensional scapular kinematics on arm elevation angle in healthy subjects



      We often clinically observe individual differences in arm elevation angles, but the motion producing these differences remains unclear, partly because of the difficulty of accurately measuring scapular motion. The aim of this study was to determine whether the scapular or glenohumeral (GH) motion has more influence on differences in the arm elevation angles by capturing not only the humerus and scapula but also the trunk using two- (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) shape-matching registration techniques.


      Fifteen healthy subjects (13 male and 2 female; mean age: 27.7 years) were instructed to elevate their arms in the sagittal, scapular, and coronal planes. They were divided into high and low groups based on the average of arm elevation angle measured by a goniometer. The 3D scapular, thoracohumeral, and glenohumeral motions were evaluated using 2D/3D single-plane registration. To compare 3D motions between groups, we performed a two-way repeated measures analysis of variance.


      Eight subjects were assigned to the high group, while seven subjects were assigned to the low groups based on an average elevation angle of 172°. The low group demonstrated a significant larger scapular protraction during elevation in all planes (P = 0.0002 for flexion; P = 0.0047 for scaption; P = 0.0314 for abduction), and smaller posterior tilting only during flexion (P = 0.0157). No significant differences occurred in scapular upward rotations or the glenohumeral positions and rotations.


      This study revealed that insufficient scapular retraction and posterior tilting results in lower arm elevation angles, suggesting that improving the flexibility and activation of muscles surrounding the scapula may be important to achieve complete arm elevation.
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