Background and Purpose. Translational mobilization techniques are frequently used by physical therapists as an intervention for patients with limited ranges of motion (ROMs). However, concrete experimental support for such practice is lacking. The purpose of the study was to evaluate the effect of simulated dorsal and ventral translational mobilization (DTM and VTM) of the glenohumeral joint on abduction and rotational ROMs. Methods. Fourteen fresh frozen shoulder specimens from 5 men and 3 women (mean age=77.3 years, SD=10.1, range=62-91) were used for this study. Each specimen underwent 5 repetitions of DTM and VTM in the plane of scapula simulated by a material testing system (MTS) in the resting position (40° of abduction in neutral rotation) and at the end range of abduction with 100 N of force. Abduction and rotation were assessed as the main outcome measures before and after each mobilization procedure performed and monitored by the MTS (abduction, 4 N·m) and by a servomotor attached to the piston of the actuator of the MTS (medial and lateral rotation, 2 N·m). Results. There were increases in abduction ROM for both DTM (X̄=2.10°, SD=1.76°) and VTM (X̄=2.06°, SD=1.96°) at the end-range position. No changes were found in the resting position following the same procedure. Small increases were also found in lateral rotation ROM after VTM in the resting position (X̄=0.90°, SD=0.92°, t=3.65, P=.003) and in medial rotation ROM after DTM (X̄=0.97°, SD=1.45°, t=2.51, P=.026) at the end range of abduction. Discussion and Conclusion. The results indicate that both DTM and VTM procedures applied at the end range of abduction improved glenohumeral abduction range of motion. Whether these changes would result in improved function could not be determined because of the use of a cadaver model.
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