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Range of Motion for Shoulder CNA Skill

Some patients you deal with will have issues with upper body mobility. One skill that CNAs can be tested on as part of their CNA skills exam is working through a series of passive range of motion exercises for the shoulder. As you take the patient through the series of exercises it’s important to pay attention for visual and audio cues of the patient’s discomfort. If the patient experiences pain or cannot perform the exercises, notify the nursing staff.  

To learn all of the necessary steps for the CNA skills for range of motion exercises for the shoulder, please watch this video demonstration. 

Shoulder Passive Range of Motion Exercises CNA Skills Exam Process

The process for shoulder range of motion exercises for the CNA skills exam is as follows:

  1. Perform the standard CNA beginning tasks. Knock before entering the patient’s room, greet the patient by name, introduce yourself, explain the task you are about to perform, close the privacy curtain, and wash your hands.
  2. Lower the head of the bed to get the patient to lie on their back.
  3. You will go through two shoulder exercises, repeating each one three times. Make sure that the movements are done slowly and that you support the patient with both hands. 
  4. Pay constant attention to the patient’s comfort level and ask them if they feel any discomfort – stop immediately if they are experiencing pain.
  5. Make sure the rest of the patient’s body is covered while their shoulder is being worked on. 
  6. Perform the first exercise – a shoulder extension. Start with the patient’s affected arm down by their side, use one of your hands and slide it around their wrist and place your other hand under the upper arm, raise the straight arm upward and over the patient’s head, then guide the arm back to the starting position. Repeat three times.
  7. Perform the second exercise – shoulder abduction/adduction. Again, start with the patient’s affected arm down by their side. Use one hand to take their wrist and use your other to support their upper arm. Once you have control of their arm, keep it straight and move the arm horizontally up toward the head of the bed, as if the patient was making a snow angel and then guide their hand back to the starting position. Repeat three times. 
  8. Perform your standard completion tasks – ensure the patient has a clean environment, ask if they are comfortable, give the patient their call light, wash your hands, and document the results.

* Please be sure to consult the testing materials provided by the skills test provider in your state to ensure that their steps for CNA’s performing shoulder range of motion exercises are in compliance. The procedure in different states and from different test providers can vary slightly and greatly affect your score.