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Dake 1

Nathaniel Dake
English 3302
Tom Akbari
Unit 1 Final Draft
January 28, 2015
Shoulder Mobility from an Engineers Perspective
Mobility and Stability Adaptations in the Shoulder of the Overhead Athlete is an article
from the journal Sports Med that describes in great detail a variety of aspects regarding shoulder
injuries in overhead athletes. It is written from a clinical perspective, however is incredibly
relevant to the field of Biomechanical Engineering due to the overlap of concepts between fields.
This piece was presented to my musculoskeletal biomechanics class as an example of how to
make sense of relevant information that happens to be outside the particular discourse of
engineering, and falls within the sector of anatomy and physiology.
The first question that is critical to answer when reading this text is the determination of
the intended audience.
It is our intention that the information presented will serve as a guide for clinicians who treat
the shoulders of overhead athletes.1(p.18)
This quotation, which was found in the abstract of the paper, provides the reader with a wide
range of useful information. It is very clearly stated that the intended audience of the article is
clinicians who will be treating the shoulders of overhead athletes. Several points should be taken
away from that statement; on one hand if the reader of the piece is a clinician they can continue
reading the piece knowing that their time will not be wasted having to be given background
information of which they are already knowledgeable. However, if the reader is an engineer who
may be embarking on the comprehension of this information, they can confidently say that the

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discourse may be outside of their range. This is a key idea for the engineer to keep in mind as it
will change the way the piece is dissected. For example if they know ahead of time that most of
the discourse will be foreign, then only the main overarching concepts will be focused on,
instead of being forced to look up an unreasonable number of definitions.
Once the audience of the piece is understood, the next angle to consider is who the
authors are and if they have a particular stance on the topic. From the conclusion:
No sources of funding were used to assist in the preparation of this review. The authors have no
conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this review. 1(p.33)
This is particularly useful to know as it immediately lets the reader know that the chance
of ulterior motives is minimal. Depending on whom the reader is this has different, but equally
important meaning. For instance as a clinician who is specifically looking to find an educational
reference for the treating of overhead shoulder injuries it will be helpful to know that the
information is not guided towards the promotion of a specific treatment, but instead simply the
best known treatment of the time. On the other hand, if the reader is an engineer who is
designing a prosthetic to treat shoulder injuries, it is very helpful to be certain that the reading is
not skewed towards another prosthetic device or rehabilitation method. In this case the engineer
wants to be confident that the information referenced is factual and unbiased, or else the design
chosen to implement may be based on a faulty report.
The next matter to look into was the elements of style at the sentence level.
During the cocking phase of the pitching cycle, while the arm is abducted and moving into
external rotation and horizontal abduction, obligate tightening of the anterior capsule and inferior

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glenohumeral ligament is reported to force the humeral head posteriorly and slightly inferior
especially during late cocking. 1(p.25)
From this excerpt it can be seen that a very specific and carefully chosen word selection
is used. This very technical terminology can be related back to the first point; this piece is clearly
aimed towards an audience that is very familiar with anatomy and physiology. This discourse is
employed for several reasons. The first being that very precise movements are being referred to
in the text; it does not suffice to merely consider the arm crossing the body. A clinician cannot
effectively treat a patient with that limited information. By assuming a high level understanding
of movement patterns and anatomy the author is able to very definitively relay information that
is critical to a clinicians job. With that said, as previously stated this causes an issue for
engineers in that they are left trying to understand a system that is laid out in a foreign manner. In
this case the engineer is forced to take on the discourse of the clinical community, or develop a
basic understanding so that communication with a clinician allows an appropriate processing of
The last point that is important to examine is how this text shows what the main problems
are that professionals in the field are faced with.
Even though the evidence is inconclusive at the present time, there is more compelling
evidence that leads us to believe that altered shoulder mobility in the overhead throwing
athlete is more strongly associated with adaptive changes in proximal humeral anatomy (i.e.
retroversion) than to structural changes in the articular and periarticular soft tissue structures.

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The above quote makes two things very clear. The first point being that overhead
shoulder injuries and subsequent treatments do not follow a definitive set of rules. Certain
aspects are still inconclusive and should be taken into consideration by the reader. The second
observation that can be made is the articles main objective is communicating knowledge to the
reader. Those two things are both seen by the first sentence of that quotation. By making
apparent the inconclusivity of the matter at hand the authors are able to avoid liability if a
treatment or design based off of the article is ineffective or worse, harmful. An engineer should
take that as a red flag and be sure to consult secondary sources before starting the design process.
With that said, in regards to the second observation by referencing evidence and then making a
strong claim about what the evidence implies the author is showing they wish to communicate
knowledge to the reader.
Mobility and Stability Adaptations in the Shoulder of the Overhead Athlete was incredibly
useful to analyze, particularly because its discourse is necessary for a biomechanical engineer to
understand, even though it is not always entirely familiar. The author does not take this into
consideration based on the expected audience, leaving engineers to either acquire an additional
discourse or rely on clinician colleagues to bridge the knowledge gap. This is particularly useful
to for my current research in bone analysis. Many of the papers I read have very little to do with
engineering but rather the anatomy and physiology of the human body. By slowly becoming
fluent in the discourse of clinicians I have become a much more effective engineer.


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1. Borsa P, Laudner K, Sauers E. Mobility and Stability Adaptations in the Shoulder of the
Overhead Athlete. ATheoretical and Evidence-Based Perspective. Sports Med 2008;
38(1) 17-36