Journal of Human Sport and Exercise

Home Exercise Program is an effective tool in improving upper limb function and quality of life in breast cancer survivors: A retrospective observational study

Bruno Corrado, Gianluca Ciardi, Clemente Servodio Iammarrone, Grazia Arpino



Background: Home Exercise Program is a mainstay of upper limb dysfunction prevention in breast cancer survivors. However, only subjective assessment instruments have been used until now in order to prove its effectiveness. In the present observational retrospective study, we assessed, for the first time, the effects of Home Exercise Program on the upper limb function of breast cancer survivors via tridimensional motion analysis. We also aimed to show that good upper extremity performance positively influenced the quality of life of breast cancer survivors. Methods: From the 2016 database of breast cancer survivors who underwent upper limb tridimensional motion analysis 1 and 3 months after modified radical mastectomy, we enrolled 15 patients who spontaneously refused to undergo the post-surgical 14-day Home Exercise Program (group A). In addition, 15 patients who were homogeneous to those of group A, but who agreed to normally undergo Home Exercise Program were selected from the same database, in order to compare upper limb performance (group B). The Constant-Murley, Brief Fatigue Inventory and European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer quality of life scores during follow-up were analyzed and compared. Results: Compared to those in group A, on tridimensional motion analysis, patients in group B showed a wider range of motion of the upper limb, with consequently better shoulder and elbow performance, lower incidence of lymphedema, minor fatigue, and better quality of life. Conclusions: We show objectively, by means of tridimensional motion analysis, that Home Exercise Program is an effective tool for preventing upper extremity dysfunction in breast cancer survivors. Hence, it should always be recommended to such patients as it positively influences their quality of life.


Breast neoplasms; Surgical procedures; Upper extremity; Movement; Rehabilitation; Quality of life


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