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Whose shoulders have lasted the longest?

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  • Whose shoulders have lasted the longest?

    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.

  • #2
    I've had pretty good luck in that regard, but lately (72yoa and 24 years post), my arms are wearing out.
    How bad will it get? Time will tell.
    69yo male T12 complete since 1995
    NW NJ

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    • #3
      74 yo 49 years post sci. no pain on a daily basis but significant loss of strength due to aging. I use a transfer board whenever I can and have van w power seats so I can do gravity transfers (always transferring down, not up). Same deal with bed, use a hospital bed and always transfer down.

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      • #4
        Funklab-
        To some degree the wear of our shoulders depends on posture and HOW we move. The ergonomics, if you will. I encourage you to see someone with a reputation for good postural analysis who can suggest exercises that will support shoulder health, plus ways to improve your overall seated posture. My shoulders occasionally get into popping mode. When I visit the chiropractor and then am careful to do stretches and sit up straight, they stop popping.

        I lift weights but limit what I do with my shoulders to things that work the rear shoulder muscles. We should be using those more to push but whether a person can depends on injury level and how many muscle groups still function. I am skinny and underweight, so I m particularly concerned with maintaining my shoulders in working order.

        If you get more concerned after doing corrective work move to an electric chair (still doing some exercises and stretches) and save the shoulders for transfers. Then you can keep working a long time. The horror with that, of course, is that one must buy a vehicle that accommodates an electric chair.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by ancientgimp View Post
          74 yo 49 years post sci. no pain on a daily basis but significant loss of strength due to aging. I use a transfer board whenever I can and have van w power seats so I can do gravity transfers (always transferring down, not up). Same deal with bed, use a hospital bed and always transfer down.
          This gives me a lot of hope! 49 years is a good long time. Looking back over your life what have you done to help keep healthy (shoulders especially, but other things too)?
          I'm assuming you have a van with a lift or a ramp, did you always have one? How much time did you spend slinging a wheelchair over your body to get in and out of a car?

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Tetracyclone View Post
            Funklab-
            To some degree the wear of our shoulders depends on posture and HOW we move. The ergonomics, if you will. I encourage you to see someone with a reputation for good postural analysis who can suggest exercises that will support shoulder health, plus ways to improve your overall seated posture. My shoulders occasionally get into popping mode. When I visit the chiropractor and then am careful to do stretches and sit up straight, they stop popping.

            I lift weights but limit what I do with my shoulders to things that work the rear shoulder muscles. We should be using those more to push but whether a person can depends on injury level and how many muscle groups still function. I am skinny and underweight, so I m particularly concerned with maintaining my shoulders in working order.

            If you get more concerned after doing corrective work move to an electric chair (still doing some exercises and stretches) and save the shoulders for transfers. Then you can keep working a long time. The horror with that, of course, is that one must buy a vehicle that accommodates an electric chair.
            I went to physical therapy about a year ago and they gave me some exercises I haven't been the greatest at keeping up with, but also helped a lot with my posture, especially when pushing and I do notice a difference, in the popping if I'm careful to push the right way and don't let my shoulder blades wing out really far when pushing.

            Unfortunately there's no way a power chair would work for me at the moment. I could always get a van, but I wouldn't be able to navigate my job in a power chair, nor my neighborhood at least at the moment. If I can get approved for my chair in the next couple weeks I plan to try and get a smart drive covered by insurance next, but I don't have much hope with my current insurance company.

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            • #7
              72, 37 years of pushing. I use to race wheelchairs, play B ball, etc. One shoulder is OK other is showing abuse. It's my hands that bug me. Tai Chi, K tape, ice and a sip of Jack keep me going. Load my folder in the car. Have gotten a Smart Drive. It helps but I fear it could make you fat, so I use it sparingly. Its become a balance, between what I can do and what I have to mentally force myself to do. I had numbness in one arm and quit sleeping with a pillow. Fixed it. I use to work all day. Now I pace myself. I work 45 minutes the SIT, for 15. I mean SIT. Do nothing. It helps a lot. I can keep at it for 8-10 hours like that, but it was hard to learn to just SIT. Maybe someday I'll have to go to 20 minute rest or more. I'll see.

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              • #8
                I did manual chair wheeling for about 50 years before I bit the bullet and went to power assist and now full power. I could have gone longer if I had not abused my shoulders in my early post injury days doing tons of push ups and transfers that awed Olympic gymnasts, lol There is much more information about preserving shoulders that has only recently become available, and power assist devices are improving every year. The link below will get you a manual that should be required reading for every manual chair wheeler. The writing is on the wall. Develop a shoulder preserving lifestyle from the onset of wheelchair use. Some people are experiencing shoulder issues a couple of years after they start wheeling.

                https://www.rstce.pitt.edu/RSTCE_Res...imb_Injury.pdf
                Last edited by SCIfor55+yrs; 05-29-2019, 09:33 AM.

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                • #9
                  I am 16 years post and have gone pretty hard on my shoulders along with 16 years of rugby league pre injury. I thought mine were on their way out until I revised my weights routine to make it more shoulder centric ( overhead presses, lateral raises etc) with relatively light weight. This has really thickened up and stabilised the scapula area and shoulder in general.

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                  • #10
                    If you have not already downloaded this consumer version of the clinical practice guideline on Upper Extremity Preservation in SCI, you may want to do so now. It's a valuable evidence- based resource:

                    https://pva-cdnendpoint.azureedge.ne...upper_limb.pdf

                    (KLD)
                    The SCI-Nurses are advanced practice nurses specializing in SCI/D care. They are available to answer questions, provide education, and make suggestions which you should always discuss with your physician/primary health care provider before implementing. Medical diagnosis is not provided, nor do the SCI-Nurses provide nursing or medical care through their responses on the CareCure forums.

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                    • #11
                      35+ years and shoulders are in A-1 shape. I did once have a tiny but brutally painful rotator cuff injury (I swear it was the result of a poorly placed flu shot!) but fortunately got relief with only one cortisone shot.
                      For those of us exclusively reliant on our upper extremities for mobility, you've got to think LONG TERM. Many wheelchair sports may be good for the soul, but the repetitive stress is the piper that will want to be paid.
                      stephen@bike-on.com

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                      • #12
                        Funklab, I went to a van early because my wife is also a chair user. I played wheelchair basketball for a few years then roadracing with race chair for 10. After a few minor shoulder issues in my 50's I started to adapt my environment for gravity transfers and increased my use of transfer board. A lot of chair users wake up in the AM and without warm up lift their entire body weight to transfer to their chair. On bitterly cold days they leave a warm house, transfer to driver seat, lift chair over their body and stow. I always felt big transfers stressed my shoulders more than sports activities.

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                        • #13
                          33 years post injury and have had no real issues. I use 6kg weights 3 times a week doing 100 curls. I also use a Varna hand bike 3 times a week on a trainer doing, depending how I feel 3 to 10 miles. This may sound a lot but it alters your position and so works different muscles particularly back and shoulders. Normal pushing everyday only works your arms and nothing for your back.

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                          • #14
                            I'm a para from Polio at age 7, so about 70 years paralyzed. Looking back I think the worst idea was years of transferring into a tub, sometimes even a spa tub (deeper). To do that transfer I would have one arm out with hand on far side of tub edge, the other one on near side of tub edge, then lift up. This technique was so stupid for me, due to the wear and tear on my outstretched arms. Why did I do so? Because I could do it. I had no pain. It didn't even occur to me to use a bench in my tub.
                            I played recreational wheelchair basketball and did about 8 road races a year for 12 years, ending in 1995. Again, no pain.
                            Around age 60 I began to have discomfort in my left shoulder during the day. I began taking OTC Motrin per doctor. By age 74 serious pain in left shoulder and got into 3 month in-home PT, 3 times a week, and prescription gel for shoulder. I continue with daily light exercises and stretching and have about 90% less pain.
                            Now, I never transfer with either arm outstretched - they are close as possible to my body when I do any transfers. Use power bed for gravity transfers, and very slick transfer board. (did not use transfer board until age 67-ish.) Retired at 55 after 20 years of full time work, then a few years ago got ZX1 mainly for outdoor travel.
                            Hope you can develop a plan for shoulder health - totally worth it to avoid future problems. I guess I'm saying that shoulder breakdown and/or surgery is NOT inevitable for a para.

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                            • #15
                              63 years old - (C 6/7) pushed manual chair for 35 years along with all the tranfers etc. Shoulders started wearing out so went to power chair and now wished I would of done it a few years before. Have more energy and mobility as far as going to places. Still have some shoulder pain so don't wait to long to make the change.

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