A quantitative comparison of arm activity between survivors of breast cancer and healthy controls: use of accelerometry

Mary Insana Fisher, Claire C. Davies, Timothy L. Uhl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Purpose: Survivors of breast cancer (BC) on the non-dominant side have more persistent deficits than those with cancer on the dominant limb. What is not known is whether those with BC use their involved upper limbs more, less, or at the same level as women without BC. Accelerometer use offers a quantifiable method to measure activity levels of upper limbs. The purpose of this study was to quantify the activity levels of the non-dominant involved limb among survivors of BC and compare these values to their dominant limb, as well as the non-dominant limb of a control group. Methods: Participants (n = 30) were women with unilateral BC on the non-dominant limb, diagnosed between 6 and 24 months prior to data collection, and a matched healthy group of women as controls. Participants completed the following questionnaires: medical and demographics, Brief Fatigue Inventory, Brief Pain Inventory – Short form, Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand (DASH), and Beck Depression Index. Participants wore an accelerometer on each wrist during waking hours for 7 days. Arm activity was measured using vector magnitude activity counts extracted from the accelerometers. Results: There were no significant differences in total vector magnitude activity counts between groups for either limb. Within group dominant to non-dominant comparison was significantly different (p ≤ 0.001). No significant difference in pain was present but significant differences for fatigue (p = 0.002), depression (p = 0.004), and DASH scores (p = 0.035) were present. Conclusions: Women with non-dominant BC use their involved limb similar to healthy controls but less than their dominant limb.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5307-5313
Number of pages7
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.


  • Breast neoplasm
  • Physical function
  • Quality of life
  • Upper extremity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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