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Whose shoulders have lasted the longest?

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    #16
    I am 35 years post injury. My shoulders hurt but they were always strong until a few years ago. It all started with one bad transfer that tore some rotator cuff muscles. I had to baby that shoulder because it hurt so badly. As a result it froze up and I lost range. The other was strong. Then one day, without incident, that one started hurting badly and soon lost range. Cortisone helps.

    I used to do long transfers without even locking the brakes. My shoulders were so strong that I could lift, move the chair into position, as I transferred. I never even thought about it. Ah, the luxury. Today, I have to lock my chair and go slowly and deliberately. I even bought a van to take it easy on the shoulders.

    I used to walk with braces and crutches. Being T7-8 complete, that puts a lot of stress on the shoulders. I'm paying the price now. I think your pre-injury life matters too. I used to make pizza the Italian way, which is hard on the shoulders. Everyone I know from that restaurant has bad shoulders.

    I'm getting a new wheelchair that will be 1.5" lower. I made the one I have now taller to better access counters and things at a height. But the trade off is transfers and pushing are more difficult. That was the wrong choice. Transfers are the most important factor in preserving shoulders. Pushing is second. I am confident that lowering my chair will help my shoulders.

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      #17
      Originally posted by funklab View Post
      Just curious of us manual wheelchair users if anyone has maintained relatively good health (outside of the obvious SCI) for a long, long time.

      My shoulders are creaking and popping disconcertingly after 11 years of pushing a manual chair, and I'm a pretty skinny guy with full arm function. I'm starting to wonder how long I will be able to work before something breaks and I'm out of the labor force, possibly for good.

      I know we live for a long time post SCI, almost as long as ABs, but living the way I am now independently, working, taking care of everything myself would be much different than if I couldn't lift my arms above my shoulders or had to use a power chair or had to not use my arms for six months after shoulder surgery (I can't even imagine that... what's the point of the shoulder surgery if you lose all function for six months?!?!??) and wasn't able to work any longer.
      Get shoulders checked asap. MRI will tell if surgery can repair the creaks and pops. Don't wait to long like I did. My shoulders now need replacing because I just lived with the discomfort too long.
      This was Pre SCI, a year of recovery after SCI, I couldn't operate a manual chair. Now I can't have replacement surgery because I live independently (no help) and recovery not possible without 24 hr long term assistance (3 months min, possible 6 months or more).
      Attack life, it's going to kill you anyway
      Steve Mcqueen (Mr Cool)

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        #18
        wow we have a lot of old-timers here! (I consider 30+ years SCI a long time)

        I love hearing all your real-world experiences, as opposed to the molly-coddle attitudes of health-care professionals who would curl up into a ball and die if they ever found themselves in our shoes.

        funklab - you are not alone in your thinking.. I'm sure most of us independent (self-dependent!) working cripples wonder what the future holds.

        Good discussion guys.

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          #19
          Hearing how long lots of yall pushed a chair makes me feel better about my future. I really started thinking about all this as I was looking at how much to put into retirement, and I was wondering if my shoulders would put me out of work by age 50 (which is less than a decade and a half away, and about 25 years post injury), maybe if I heed all of your advice I can make it past that and keep working.

          I didn't think about tub transfers. I didn't really start doing those until the last 2-3 years, before that I always had some kind of seat in the tub, but after my most recent move it just seemed more convenient to put a cushion on the bottom of the tub and do it that way... my last and only shower bench got all grimey and nasted after a couple years and I tossed it, using a folding chair in the shower with a cushion (definitely didn't make for the safest or stablest transfers).

          Thanks for the link to the book, KLD!

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            #20
            I'm 46 years in June 21st. We are the first generation living long enough to where the ramifications of shoulder use long term is evident. Shoulder injury was not an issue in rehab because most of us didn't live long enough to get them. We did unsafe transfers and dragging our bodies up stair by stair is because that was the only way it could be accomplished.

            Both Spinatus are ripped, both biceps torn off the long head, right ulnar nerve is almost dead so losing strength in little and ring finger. I used to be able to transfer from the floor to the chair no problem; now the wife assists or I use a sliding board. I still stand, ride a handcycle with roadrace powerpod and go to the gym once a week with a trainer. Pre injury and post injury; I was either in the gym, training for a sport or upcoming stunt.

            I'm pretty busted up but wouldn't change it for the wonderful life it took to get where I'm at. I feel it's not a matter of "if" but "when". Follow the guidelines of course, but if you go power, figure out a way to make up for the exercise you lose by not using your manual chair. I'm using a ZX1 more often and find it acceptable but in the back of my mind I'm wondering how much endurance I'm missing out on. It's a mindset change I'm going thru. I'm not a jock anymore and 46 years in I need to give myself a break.

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              #21
              45 years with SCI. I have been very blessed to still have pretty good shoulder function. I played hoops for many years too so lots of abuse, but so far so good! Some years ago I was having shoulder issues and I was treated with cortisone shots which helped, but it didn't fix it. I finally realized that the cause of my shoulder problems was from yanking my manual chair in and out of my car. After years and years of doing that, my shoulders just said enough! I reluctantly traded my sports car in for a ramp van and viola, problem fixed. Thank the Lord!
              Last edited by rcrumb; 28 May 2019, 9:49 PM.

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                #22
                Originally posted by rcrumb View Post
                45 years with SCI. I have been very blessed to still have pretty good shoulder function. I played hoops for many years too so lots of abuse, but so far so good! Some years ago I was having shoulder issues and I was treated with cortisone shots which helped, but it didn't fix it. I finally realized that the cause of my shoulder problems was from yanking my manual chair in and out of my car. After years and years of doing that, my shoulders just said enough! I reluctantly traded my sports car in for a ramp van and viola, problem fixed. Thank the Lord!
                2 weeks ago I developed shoulder pain after a busy day when I tossed my chair in and out of my car trying to meet appointment times. I'm getting chiropractic care but will consult with an orthopedist, as I suspect some cortisone would be helpful at this point. I have already identified less stressful ways to load my chair, so expect that with some healing I will be able to continue with my present vehicle. In addition, sitting straight with shoulders relaxed is more helpful than I expected. I have only been in a chair 11 years but previous to that I was hard on my shoulders, doing heavier work than my build is really designed for. I recall a major shoulder problem in 2003 that was resolved with just 2 visits to an acupuncturist. Who knew?

                Previously I had failed to take seriously the small strains of certain ADLs.

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                  #23
                  62 years old and 35 years T12-L1. Shoulders are totally shot. Last summer I ended up in a power chair. Driving a mini van from the chair. I am far from independent but still working. My wife is my caregiver.

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