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Passive Range of Motion: Definition and Examples

What is Passive Range of Motion?

Passive range of motion (PROM) is joint movement caused by another person or a specialized device, such as a continuous passive motion (CPM) machine. The person completing the movement passively doesn’t engage any muscles to contribute to the motion. For example, a specialist might lift a patient’s arm upward to assess shoulder mobility and pain levels if the person is recovering from surgery or an injury.

Passive vs. Active Range of Motion

As discussed, passive range of motion refers to joint movement created by another person or a device. 

In contrast, active range of motion is movement at one or more joints as the surrounding muscles contract and relax. A simple example of an active range of motion is flexing the bicep muscle and bending the elbow.

The bottom line? Active range of motion is when a person uses their strength to perform an activity, whereas passive range of motion means another person or a device creates joint movement.


1. What is the primary use of passive range of motion?

PROM’s primary purpose is to improve mobility and support circulation. It’s particularly beneficial for patients who cannot move independently, such as those recovering from surgery.

2. Is passive range of motion important for recovery?

Passive range of motion reduces joint stiffness, promotes mobility, and stimulates blood flow, crucial for muscle, joint, and connective tissue recovery.

3. Does passive range of motion lead to pain?

When done incorrectly, such as by pushing a certain joint beyond the range of motion it can handle, it can lead to pain and even cause damage.

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