Department of Physical Therapy Student Theses, Dissertations and Capstones

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Physical Therapy

Copyright Statement

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College of Health Care Sciences - Physical Therapy Department

First Advisor

Madeleine Hellman

Publication Date / Copyright Date



Nova Southeastern University


Competitive swimmers frequently injure their shoulders. The risk factors for shoulder injuries in competitive swimmers have not been clearly identified. The primary purposes of this study were to describe the characteristics of female collegiate swimmers at the onset of a swim season, identify the risk factors of shoulder injury in female collegiate swimmers, characterize the swim volume of female collegiate swimmers, and determine if swim volume is a predictor of shoulder injury.

A prospective longitudinal cohort multi-center design was utilized. Female collegiate swimmers [n=53, mean age=19.3+/– 1.2] from four NCAA Division II universities were recruited to participate in this study. Preseason screening data that included demographics and sport history, swimming characteristics, and a musculoskeletal assessment was collected on 106 shoulders. Participants completed a weekly survey to track exposure data over the course of the season. Shoulder injury data was also collected. A shoulder injury was defined as swimming-related shoulder pain that resulted in one or more limited or modified athletic practices or competitions.

Female swimmers reported a history of shoulder pain in 18/106 (17.0%) shoulders, and 14/106 (13.2%) of swimmers presented with obvious scapular dyskinesis at preseason. No differences in shoulder characteristics were found between swimmers with a history of shoulder pain and those without and those with obvious dyskinesis compared to those with normal scapular motion. There was a positive correlation between anterior glenohumeral laxity and shoulder external rotation range of motion (r=0.37, p

Previous injury was the sole predictor of new shoulder injury in the group studied. Further research into the predictors of shoulder injury in female collegiate swimmers is warranted.


Physical Therapy


Health and environmental sciences, Injuries, Shoulder, Swimmers

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