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Keywords:

  • neck dissection;
  • shoulder disability;
  • quality of life;
  • physiotherapy

LAUCHLAN D.T., Mc CAUL J.A., Mc CARRON T., PATIL S., Mc MANNERS J. & Mc GARVA J. (2011) European Journal of Cancer Care20, 113–122 An exploratory trial of preventative rehabilitation on shoulder disability and quality of life in patients following neck dissection surgery

Patients commonly develop shoulder disability and reduction in quality of life (QOL) following neck dissection surgery. There is a lack of studies investigating the impact of preventative rehabilitation to prevent shoulder disability in this population. An exploratory trial was undertaken to investigate this gap in the head and neck cancer literature. Thirty-two subjects were randomly assigned to either one of two groups: early physiotherapy for a period of 3 months following surgery and current routine inpatient care and advice. Blinded measurement of shoulder function and QOL were recorded pre-operatively and at 1 year following surgery. No difference was found using between-group analysis (Mann–Whitney U-Test) for any outcome measures observed. Descriptive data analysis suggests that subjects receiving early physiotherapy had a perception of increased physical well-being when compared with subjects receiving routine care. There may be some clinical significance that subjects receiving a course of physiotherapy did appear to rate their physical well-being higher than those subjects not undergoing rehabilitation. Further research to investigate the preventative effects of physiotherapy on this population should consider the use of head and neck cancer-specific outcome measurement of both shoulder disability and QOL.