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Effectiveness of therapeutic inflatable ball self-exercises for improving shoulder function and quality of life in breast cancer survivors after sentinel lymph node dissection



The survival rate of breast cancer survivors (BCSs) is > 90%. Particular issues are upper arm dysfunction caused by surgery and treatments. Physical activity has been recommended to improve shoulder function and quality of life (QoL) in BCSs. However, rehabilitation programs tend not to be continuous.


To explore the effectiveness of therapeutic inflatable ball self-exercise for improving shoulder function and QoL in breast cancer survivors (BCSs) following breast cancer surgery.

Patients and methods

Seventy-two BCSs were allocated to two groups, conventional self-exercise (CSE; n = 34; age, 48.9 ± 7.2 years) and therapeutic inflatable ball self-exercise (IBE; n = 38; age, 47.7 ± 8.9 years); 22 in the CSE and 23 in the IBE group completed the interventions. Both groups performed intervention for 12 weeks, three times per week and 15 min a day at least. Measurement was performed three times for shoulder range of motion (ROM), handgrip strength, Shoulder Pain and Disability Index (SPADI), and Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Breast (FACT-B).


Flexion and extension of shoulder ROM showed significant differences between the two groups at 12 weeks. Flexion and extension of shoulder ROM showed significant differences for t1-t2 (p = 0.02) and t0-t1 (p = 0.04). Abduction showed a significant difference for t0-t1 (p = 0.03), t1-t2 (p = 0.02), and t0-t2 (p = 0.01). CSE (7 points) and IBE (20 points) satisfied the MDC in FACT-B total score. The MDC of the SPADI total score was 13 points in the CSE group and 9 points in the IBE group.


IBE would be more appropriate to start the rehabilitation for BCSs and CSE would be effective after the pain has improved.

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Correspondence to Bumchul Yoon.

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Kim, M., Lee, M., Kim, M. et al. Effectiveness of therapeutic inflatable ball self-exercises for improving shoulder function and quality of life in breast cancer survivors after sentinel lymph node dissection. Support Care Cancer 27, 2349–2360 (2019).

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  • Breast cancer
  • Rehabilitation
  • Shoulder pain and function
  • Self-exercise
  • Inflatable ball