Testimonial for The Rotater
By Ann Wendel, P.T., A.T.C., CMTPT
I “met” the folks from Joint Mechanix (Chris Melton and Scott Kay) on Twitter months ago. These guys Tweet a good deal of information related to shoulder injuries and rehabilitation (@theRotater), and they are very supportive of the work of physical therapists, athletic trainers, and strength and conditioning coaches. When they asked if I might want to try out The Rotater, I agreed. They promptly shipped it out within days, and it arrived at my house that same week. I opened the box to take a look at it, tried to figure it out without watching the DVD or reading the instructions, got interrupted by something, and set it down. And, I’m embarrassed to say, there it sat for a few months. Life got a bit crazy during that time (all good stuff!), and my review of The Rotater stayed on my to-do list.
Chris was so gracious during these months, checking in with me to see if I had tried The Rotater out yet, and forgiving me every time I replied that I had not yet had the chance. Finally, this morning, the review of The Rotater made it to the number one spot on my to-do list, and I sat down with the videos to figure out how to properly set up the device.
Cue the backstory: I had a frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) four or five years ago. This condition was a super awesome bonus (sarcasm) of my autoimmune illness, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. I had treated many, many patients with frozen shoulder over the years, so I knew how long it could take to fully recover. What I didn’t know was how painful the recovery process really was. I was fortunate that with treatment, I had most of my range of motion in my left shoulder back about six months after the condition started. After almost a year, I was back to the majority of my normal activities. I progressed my exercise routine slowly, and while I wasn’t 100% better, I managed.
Recently I have increased my workouts considerably. I have added weight lifting back into my life after Hashimoto’s forced me to stop about five years ago. I have built up to doing pull ups and chin ups again, and lifting weights overhead. While I have totally enjoyed getting back to my normal life, I have been dealing with on-going left sided neck, back, and shoulder pain. As any good physical therapist would do, I completely ignored this problem! (Ha-ha) Occasionally I would grab one of my colleagues for a “quick fix”, and then go back about my business.
A few months ago I began training for a distance charity bike ride. During my training rides, I was shocked to realize that I couldn’t signal for a right turn with my left arm! I realized that I didn’t have the external rotation range of motion to get my shoulder to 90 degrees of shoulder abduction and external rotation with 90 degrees of elbow flexion. Again, I ignored it and used my poor approximation of the turn signal when cars were around.
When I started taking a look at The Rotater this morning, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I figured I would give it a try and then maybe try it with a patient this week to see what they thought. I was completely surprised when I started doing the internal and external rotation stretches that I had moderate restrictions in both directions. As I kept doing the stretches for several minutes, I was gradually able to go farther in both directions. After five to ten minutes, I tried to make the right turn signal with my left arm, and found that I was able to do it. I messaged Chris right away with probably the dumbest message he has ever received, “I used it and it works!” Chris very politely said, “I thought you’d like it ?.”
So, this is a classic tale of the shoemakers kids needing shoes – I’m a physical therapist, I should have taken care of this nagging injury a long time ago…. All I can say is better late than never! Now that I have tried The Rotater, I am happy to give a little review:
The Rotater comes with a Velcro wrist strap, Strongarm Attachment (medium resistance tubing for strengthening), plastic handle for Strongarm Attachment, instructional DVD, and instruction sheet. The DVD and The Rotater website https://therotater.com/wp/new-rotater-instructional-videos/ are both useful in figuring out how to set up the device (it’s not immediately obvious how to use it). Once you get the idea, the device is very effective at stretching internal and external rotation passively, so that patients can replicate the manual stretching performed by their physical therapist in the clinic. Obvious benefits include safe performance of HEP by patients between P.T. appointments, ability to continue stretching effectively during periods of travel which prevent attendance to physical therapy, and patient directed and controlled passive range of motion. Chris and Scott provide good information on their website and blog, and Tweet relevant information on Twitter, so be sure to check them out! Whether you are a physical therapist or a patient, The Rotater may be a beneficial supplement to your current treatment protocol for shoulder injuries.