Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Physical Therapy (MPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Thomas Mohr


Cerebrovascular Disorders -- complications; Hemiplegia -- rehabilitation; Physical Therapy -- methods


Stroke may cause long-term disability and impairment in the hemiplegic shoulder. Problems may develop early in the flaccid phase of recovery and complicate the entire rehabilitation process. The etiology and treatment of shoulder complications remains uncertain. Contributing factors include inappropriate handling and positioning, abnormal muscle tone, impaired sensation, and musculoskeletal pathology.

Prevention and treatment of shoulder dysfunction begins with positioning, early range of motion, and education. Physical therapists play an important role in stroke management by administering therapeutic positioning programs, teaching appropriate exercise regimens, and instructing in proper handling techniques.

The purpose of this paper is to review methods being utilized in the clinic to rehabilitate the flaccid shoulder and prevent post-stroke complications that may interfere with mobility and function. Understanding the possible causes is essential for choosing appropriate prevention and treatment strategies. Future work needs to be done in this area as the painful shoulder continues to be a serious problem in stroke hemiplegia.