Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 109, Issue 2, pp 285–295

Effectiveness of a self-administered, home-based exercise rehabilitation program for women following a modified radical mastectomy and axillary node dissection: a preliminary study

  • Robert D. Kilgour
  • David H. Jones
  • John R. Keyserlingk
Preclinical Study



This pilot study examined the effects of a self-administered, home-based exercise (HBE) rehabilitation programme designed to help women regain shoulder mobility immediately following surgery for a modified radical mastectomy and axillary node dissection.


Twenty-seven women who were scheduled for surgery were randomly assigned to either a post-surgical experimental HBE rehabilitation group (n = 16) or a usual care group (UC; n = 11). Women assigned to the HBE group followed an 11 day (days 3–14 post-surgery), home-based rehabilitation programme consisting of shoulder flexibility and stretching exercises that were described on videotape. The videotape programme was modelled after the exercises and guidelines described in a brochure produced by the Canadian Cancer Society.


As a result of the exercise programme intervention, there was a time × group interaction indicating that the HBE group demonstrated a significantly greater increase in shoulder flexion range of motion (ROM) (p = 0.003) and abduction ROM (p = 0.036) when compared to the UC. There were no statistical differences in shoulder strength between groups over time. External rotation (p = 0.036) and grip strength (p = 0.001) significantly increased in both groups during the intervention period but there were no interaction effects. With respect to the forearm circumferences, there was a significant decrease over time (p < 0.001) but no interaction between groups.


This HBE rehabilitation programme is an effective way to improve shoulder mobility and ROM during the immediate 2-week recovery period following surgery.


Axillary node dissection Home-based exercise programme Mastectomy Shoulder range of motion 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert D. Kilgour
    • 1
  • David H. Jones
    • 1
  • John R. Keyserlingk
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Exercise Science, The Richard J. Renaud Science ComplexConcordia UniversityMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Ville Marie Medical and Women’s Health CentreMontrealCanada

Personalised recommendations