Original Article

Impact of Sling Use on Functional Mobility in a Geriatric Population

Authors: Sudarsan Murali, MD, MBA, Mathew Hargreaves, BS, Kyle Paul, MD, John N. Manfredi, BS, Jun Kit He, MD, Sean Young, DO, Marshall Williams, MD, Eugene Brabston, MD, Brent Ponce, MD, Amit Momaya, MD


Objectives: Sling immobilization is commonly used following rotator cuff repair. The purpose of this study was to determine the detrimental impact of sling usage on mobility and balance in an older adult population through validated gait and balance testing. The authors hypothesize that sling use will negatively affect balance and stability.

Methods: This institutional review board–approved and registered randomized prospective clinical trial enrolled patients from 2019 to 2021. Following informed consent, patients were randomized into two groups: a sling worn (group 1) and no sling worn (group 2). Participants were assessed via the Edmonton Frail Scale as well as Tinetti gait and balance scoring.

Results: Fifty patients were included in the study, 23 (46%) men and 27 (54%) women, with a mean age of 72.2 years. The balance score median was 16.00 for participants not wearing a sling and 15.00 for participants wearing a sling. The gait score median was 12.00 for participants not wearing a sling and 11.50 for participants wearing a sling. The balance and gait scores were significantly greater when patients were not wearing a shoulder sling with P values of 0.006 and 0.011, respectively. The overall combined gait and balance score was significantly greater, with median values of 27.00 for participants not wearing a sling and 26.00 for participants wearing a sling (P = 0.001). Patients reported little to no anxiety about falling while wearing the sling, with a score of 0.16.

Conclusions: Postoperative sling immobilization negatively affects balance and gait in the geriatric population, potentially increasing the risk of postoperative falls in an already at-risk population.
Posted in: Rheumatology and Orthopedics24

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