Abstract: There is limited evidence regarding the effects of aquatic-based physiotherapy on shoulder proprioception following post-traumatic injury to the joint. The main aim of this study was to investigate the effects of additional aquatic-based rehabilitation to a land-based physiotherapy program on shoulder joint position sense (JPS) rehabilitation. Forty-four individuals (mean age 44.50 ± 10.11) who had suffered a post-traumatic shoulder injury less than five months previously were pseudo-randomly allocated equally into a control group (9 females, 13 males) and experimental group (6 females, 16 males). Both groups received individualized standard land-based physiotherapy on average for 50 min per session, with five sessions per week for four consecutive weeks. The experimental group received an additional 30 min of personalized aquatic-based therapy during each session. Shoulder JPS was assessed by flexion (60◦), extension (25◦), abduction (60◦), internal rotation (35◦) and external rotation (35◦) positions prior, halfway through, and after the intervention. Shoulder JPS improved significantly for all positions for both the control group (p < 0.03) and the experimental group (p < 0.01). No significant differences between the control group and the experimental group were found for change in shoulder JPS over time. Our results indicate that shoulder JPS can be significantly improved among individuals with post-traumatic injury to the joint through four weeks of personalized physiotherapy. The addition of aquatic-based exercises to standard land-based therapy did not, however, show significant benefits, and thus cannot be recommended for the improvement of shoulder JPS based on our findings.
Keywords: rehabilitation; physiotherapy; proprioception; joint position sense; shoulder joint