Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Physical Therapy (MPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Beverly Johnson


Movement -- physiology; Shoulder Joint -- physiology


The population of the United States is rapidly aging; this is exemplified by the cohort of "Baby-Boomers" who make up a large part of the population. This becomes relevant to physical therapists, as our clients will reflect this "graying" of America. There is a lack of research regarding normative values for shoulder range of motion (ROM) in the elderly population. Due to many different factors in the aging process, there may be a decline in ROM in elderly persons. Current normative values may not be applicable to this population.

Two pilot studies were conducted measuring active and passive shoulder ROM in persons 60 years of age and older. Shoulder measurements included the following: flexion, extension, abduction, and internal and external rotation. Fifteen individuals participated in the first pilot study, twelve in the second, with a subset of nine individuals who participated in both studies.

Upon completion of both pilot studies, the researchers were unable to establish intrarater reliability. The researchers then focused their attention to the factors that may affect reliability of goniometric measurements.

There are many factors that can play a part in the reliability of the motion available at a particular joint and the subsequent measurement of that joint. Some of those factors include physiological effects of aging, participant effort, cognitive effects of aging, the use of substitution patterns of movement, and inconsistent and inaccurate measurements taken by physical therapy students.