Kinematic coupling of the glenohumeral and scapulothoracic joints generates humeral axial rotation

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Journal of biomechanics


Glenohumeral and scapulothoracic motion combine to generate humerothoracic motion, but their discrete contributions towards humerothoracic axial rotation have not been investigated. Understanding their contributions to axial rotation is important to judge the effects of pathology, surgical intervention, and physiotherapy. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate the kinematic coupling between glenohumeral and scapulothoracic motion and determine their relative contributions towards axial rotation. Twenty healthy subjects (10 M/10F, ages 22-66) were previously recorded using biplane fluoroscopy while performing arm elevation in the coronal, scapular, and sagittal planes, and external rotation in 0° and 90° of abduction. Glenohumeral and scapulothoracic contributions towards axial rotation were computed by integrating the projection of glenohumeral and scapulothoracic angular velocity onto the humeral longitudinal axis, and analyzed using one dimensional statistical parametric mapping and linear regression. During arm elevation, scapulothoracic motion supplied 13-20° (76-94%) of axial rotation, mainly via scapulothoracic upward rotation. The contribution of scapulothoracic motion towards axial rotation was strongly correlated with glenohumeral plane of elevation during arm elevation. During external rotation, scapulothoracic motion contributed 10° (8%) towards axial rotation in 0° of abduction and 15° (15%) in 90° of abduction. The contribution of scapulothoracic motion towards humerothoracic axial rotation could explain the simultaneous changes in glenohumeral plane of elevation and axial rotation associated with some pathologies and surgeries. Understanding how humerothoracic motion results from the functional coupling of scapulothoracic and glenohumeral motions may inform diagnostic and treatment strategies by targeting the source of movement impairments in clinical populations.

Medical Subject Headings

Adult; Aged; Biomechanical Phenomena; Humans; Humerus; Middle Aged; Range of Motion, Articular; Rotation; Scapula; Shoulder Joint; Young Adult

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