So, last year I was asked by Chris Melton if I would like to try out a product of his called The Rotater . I kindly said thanks but no thanks. This was not because I was skeptical, or that I didn’t think it would work; it was actually because the clinic I was working in actually had one! I said I would try using it a little more in the clinic and see how it goes. Well I did not do this at all. I continued recommending the “sleeper stretch” for internal rotation, and the “doorway stretch” (not the best option, but definitely the simplest) for external rotation. But only on a rare occasion would I get out the rotater and have the patient perform “passive” range of motion on their shoulder.
If you’ve read up to this point and are still saying what the hell is the rotater, maybe you should click the link above or here. It is a tool used to increase the active and passive range of motion of your shoulder when the hands of a therapist or trainer are not available. It is also a strengthening tool when set up correctly, but I’ll get to this more.
For about the last 6 months of my time in Boston I did not use the rotater much. THEN I MOVED!!! Cue Phantom Planet’s “California” (the old theme music to “The OC”). I actually met a future patient at a co-worker’s spouses’ birthday where my wife convinced this patient she should make the 1.5-3 hour drive (depending on traffic) twice a week to see me (I think my wife missed her calling in sales). So there she was two weeks later once cleared by her MD; status post grade three labral tear with minimal biceps involvement.
To make a really long story short, I’ll give you the need to know. She progressed very quickly but continued to feel restricted in ER above shoulder level, and internal rotation behind her back. Well the more I stretched her the better this got. But this patient had a huge change coming in her life. When cleared for travel, she was going to start travelling all over this great country and Canada as the VP of sales for a cosmetics company. This is where the rotator comes into play. I shot an e-mail over to Chris explaining what had happened last year and saying I’d love to give the rotater another shot.
A couple days later the rotator showed up at work and bam! I put it right to work. I actually gave it to this patient to use for the next couple of weeks while she traveled all over the place. She would come into the clinic when she could, but along with her home exercise program I asked if she could use the rotater for internal and external rotation at 90 degrees, or close to it, of shoulder abduction.
Well it took about 6 weeks of use, but she got full ROM back and is now back to basic yoga and spinning with no pain, but occasional muscular tightness in her upper trap and biceps. She clearly still has some strengthening to do in her periscap and RTC along with active stabilization/proprioceptive work. But I have to say I do not think that she would have progressed this quickly without the rotater.
What I have found to date with the rotater:
- Light weight
- Easy to use with visual and written directions
- One size fits all
- When using the rotater’s strengthening cord, if the line of pull is not straight the rotater twists
- The velcro strap can be uncomfortable around the wrist if not perfectly overlapping
- If directions are not handy, set up can initially be difficult; however with moderate use, set up becomes quite easy
Other conditions I have since used the rotater for:
- Rotator cuff tendonitis/osis
- Biceps tendonitis
- Adhesive capsulitis/frozen shoulder
- Post-op rotator cuff repair
If you are a therapist or trainer and need a good tool to improve passive and active shoulder range of motion that is portable, easy to learn, and effective, I recommend the rotater. I have been in contact with Chris recently and he tells me that a more sturdy version of the rotater is in the works which would solve at least one of the “con’s” with this tool. If you have further questions feel free to contact Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org.