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This purpose of this study was to investigate the reliability, minimal detectable change (MDC), and concurrent validity of active spinal mobility measurements using a gravity‐based bubble inclinometer and iPhone® application.
Two investigators each used a bubble inclinometer and an iPhone® with inclinometer application to measure total thoracolumbo‐pelvic flexion, isolated lumbar flexion, total thoracolumbo‐pelvic extension, and thoracolumbar lateral flexion in 30 asymptomatic participants using a blinded repeated measures design.
The procedures used in this investigation for measuring spinal mobility yielded good intrarater and interrater reliability with Intraclass Correlation Coefficients (ICC) for bubble inclinometry ≥ 0.81 and the iPhone® ≥ 0.80. The MDC90 for the interrater analysis ranged from 4° to 9°. The concurrent validity between bubble inclinometry and the iPhone® application was good with ICC values of ≥ 0.86. The 95% level of agreement indicates that although these measuring instruments are equivalent individual differences of up to 18° may exist when using these devices interchangeably.
The bubble inclinometer and iPhone® possess good intrarater and interrater reliability as well as concurrent validity when strict measurement procedures are adhered to. This study provides preliminary evidence to suggest that smart phone applications may offer clinical utility comparable to inclinometry for quantifying spinal mobility. Clinicians should be aware of the potential disagreement when using these devices interchangeably.
Level of Evidence:
2b (Observational study of reliability)
PMCID: PMC3625792  PMID: 23593551
Inclinometer; range of motion; smart phone; spine
2.  Reliability of goniometric measurements in children with cerebral palsy: A comparative analysis of universal goniometer and electronic inclinometer. A pilot study 
Even though technological progress has provided us with more and more sophisticated equipment for making goniometric measurements, the most commonly used clinical tools are still the universal goniometer and, to a lesser extent, the inclinometer. There is, however, no published study so far that uses an inclinometer for measurements in children with cerebral palsy (CP). The objective of this study was two-fold: to independently assess the intra and inter-examiner reliability for measuring the hip abduction range of motion in children with CP using two different instruments, the universal two-axis goniometer and electronic inclinometer. A pool of 5 examiners with different levels of experience as paediatric physiotherapists participated. The study did not compare both instruments because the measurement procedure and the hip position were different for each.
A prospective, observational study of goniometery was carried out with 14 lower extremities of 7 children with spastic CP. The inclinometer study was carried out with 8 lower extremities of 4 children with spastic CP. This study was divided into two independent parts: a study of the reliability of the hip abduction range of motion measured with a universal goniometer (hip at 0° flexion) and with an electronic inclinometer (hip at 90° flexion). The Intraclass Correlation Coefficient (ICC) was calculated to analyse intra and inter-examiner agreement for each instrument.
For the goniometer, the intra-examiner reliability was excellent (>0.80), while the inter-examiner reliability was low (0.375 and 0.475). For the inclinometer, both the intra-examiner (0.850-0.975) and inter-examiner reliability were excellent (0.965 and 0.979).
The inter-examiner reliability for goniometric measurement of hip abduction in children with CP was low, in keeping with other results found in previous publications. The inclinometer has proved to be a highly reliable tool for measuring the hip abduction range of motion in children with CP, which opens up new possibilities in this field, despite having some measurement limitations.
PMCID: PMC3160434  PMID: 21740600
Hip range of motion is an important component in assessing clinical orthopedic conditions of the hip, low back and lower extremities. However it remains unclear as to what constitutes the best tool for clinical measurement. The purpose of this study was to investigate the concurrent validity of passive range of motion (ROM) measurements of hip extension and hip internal and external rotation using a digital inclinometer and goniometer.
Criterion Standard
Clinical research laboratory
30 healthy subjects without pain, radicular symptoms or history of surgery in the low back or hip regions.
Main Outcome Measures:
Passive hip range of motion for extension, hip internal rotation and hip external rotation. A digital inclinometer and universal goniometer were utilized as the tools for comparisons between measurements.
There was a statistically significant difference (p < 0.05) between the goniometer and digital inclinometer in measured hip ROM except for measurements of right hip external rotation (p > 0.05). The mean difference between the goniometer and digital inclinometer in left hip extension, internal rotation and external rotation were 3.5°, 4.5° and 5.0° respectively. The mean difference between the two devices in right hip extension, internal rotation and external rotation were 2.8°, 4.2° and 2.6° respectively. On average, the difference between the goniometer and digital inclinometer in extension was 3.2°, internal rotation was 4.5° and external rotation was 3.8°. The digital inclinometer had greater measurement during EXT and ER. Furthermore, there was no statistically significant difference (p > 0.05) in hip ROM between the left and right side for either goniometric or digital inclinometer measurements.
This results of this study indicate that a significant difference exists between the two devices in all measurements with exception of right hip extension. The differences were noted to be between 3–5 degrees for all planes measured. These findings suggest that caution should be used if these two devices are to be used interchangeably to quantify passive hip range of motion in either clinical practice or when comparing studies that utilize different instruments.
Level of Evidence:
PMCID: PMC3811733  PMID: 24175147
Goniometry, hip; lumbar, passive range of motion; validity
A variety of methods exist to measure ankle dorsiflexion range of motion (ROM). Few studies have examined the reliability of a novice rater. The purpose of this study was to determine the reliability of ankle ROM measurements using three different techniques in a novice rater.
Twenty healthy subjects (mean±SD, age=24±3 years, height=173.2±8.1 cm, mass=72.6±15.2 kg) participated in this study. Ankle dorsiflexion ROM measures were obtained in a weight-bearing lunge position using a standard goniometer, digital inclinometer, and a tape measure using the distance-to-wall technique. All measures were obtained three times per side, with 10 minutes of rest between the first and second set of measures. Intrarater reliability was determined using an intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC2,3) and associated 95% confidence intervals (CI). Standard error of measurement (SEM) and the minimal detectable change (MDC) for each measurement technique were also calculated.
The within-session intrarater reliability (ICC2,3) estimates for each measure are as follows: tape measure (right 0.98, left 0.99), digital inclinometer (right 0.96; left 0.97), and goniometer (right 0.85; left 0.96). The SEM for the tape measure method ranged from 0.4–0.6 cm and the MDC was between 1.1–1.5 cm. The SEM for the inclinometer was between 1.3–1.4° and the MDC was 3.7–3.8°. The SEM for the goniometer ranged from 1.8–2.8° with an MDC of 5.0–7.7°.
The results indicate that reliable measures of weight-bearing ankle dorsiflexion ROM can be obtained from a novice rater. All three techniques had good reliability and low measurement error, with the distance-to-wall technique using a tape measure and inclinometer methods resulting in higher reliability coefficients (ICC2,3=0.96 to 0.99) and a lower SEM compared to the goniometer (ICC2,3=0.85 to 0.96).
Level of Evidence:
PMCID: PMC3362988  PMID: 22666642
goniometry; inclinometer; talocrural joint
5.  Intrarater and Interrater Reliability of the Flexicurve Index, Flexicurve Angle, and Manual Inclinometer for the Measurement of Thoracic Kyphosis 
Objective. This study aimed to describe the interrater and intrarater reliability of the flexicurve index, flexicurve angle, and manual inclinometer in swimmers. A secondary objective was to determine the level of agreement between the inclinometer angle and the flexicurve angle and to provide an equation to approximate one angle from the other. Methods. Thirty swimmers participated. Thoracic kyphosis was measured using the flexicurve and the manual inclinometer. Intraclass correlation coefficient, 95% confidence interval, and standard error of measurement were computed. Results. The flexicurve angle and index showed excellent intrarater (ICC = 0.94) and good interrater (ICC = 0.86) reliability. The inclinometer demonstrated excellent intrarater (ICC = 0.92) and interrater (ICC = 0.90) reliability. The flexicurve angle was systematically smaller and correlated poorly with the inclinometer angle (R2 = 0.384). The following equations can be used for approximate conversions: flexicurve angle = (0.275 × inclinometer angle) + 8.478; inclinometer angle = (1.396 × flexicurve angle) + 8.694. Conclusion. The inclinometer and flexicurve are both reliable instruments for thoracic kyphosis measurement in swimmers. Although the flexicurve and inclinometer angles are not directly comparable, the approximate conversion factors provided will permit translation of flexicurve angle to inclinometer angle and vice versa.
PMCID: PMC3875123  PMID: 24396603
6.  How reliably do rheumatologists measure shoulder movement? 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2002;61(7):612-616.
Objective: To assess the intrarater and interrater reliability among rheumatologists of a standardised protocol for measurement of shoulder movements using a gravity inclinometer.
Methods: After instruction, six rheumatologists independently assessed eight movements of the shoulder, including total and glenohumeral flexion, total and glenohumeral abduction, external rotation in neutral and in abduction, internal rotation in abduction and hand behind back, in random order in six patients with shoulder pain and stiffness according to a 6x6 Latin square design using a standardised protocol. These assessments were then repeated. Analysis of variance was used to partition total variability into components of variance in order to calculate intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs).
Results: The intrarater and interrater reliability of different shoulder movements varied widely. The movement of hand behind back and total shoulder flexion yielded the highest ICC scores for both intrarater reliability (0.91 and 0.83, respectively) and interrater reliability (0.80 and 0.72, respectively). Low ICC scores were found for the movements of glenohumeral abduction, external rotation in abduction, and internal rotation in abduction (intrarater ICCs 0.35, 0.43, and 0.32, respectively), and external rotation in neutral, external rotation in abduction, and internal rotation in abduction (interrater ICCs 0.29, 0.11, and 0.06, respectively).
Conclusions: The measurement of shoulder movements using a standardised protocol by rheumatologists produced variable intrarater and interrater reliability. Reasonable reliability was obtained only for the movement of hand behind back and total shoulder flexion.
PMCID: PMC1754152  PMID: 12079902
7.  Inter-observer reproducibility of measurements of range of motion in patients with shoulder pain using a digital inclinometer 
Reproducible measurements of the range of motion are an important prerequisite for the interpretation of study results. The digital inclinometer is considered to be a useful instrument because it is inexpensive and easy to use. No previous study assessed inter-observer reproducibility of range of motion measurements with a digital inclinometer by physical therapists in a large sample of patients.
Two physical therapists independently measured the passive range of motion of the glenohumeral abduction and the external rotation in 155 patients with shoulder pain. Agreement was quantified by calculation of the mean differences between the observers and the standard deviation (SD) of this difference and the limits of agreement, defined as the mean difference ± 1.96*SD of this difference. Reliability was quantified by means of the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC).
The limits of agreement were 0.8 ± 19.6 for glenohumeral abduction and -4.6 ± 18.8 for external rotation (affected side) and quite similar for the contralateral side and the differences between sides. The percentage agreement within 10° for these measurements were 72% and 70% respectively. The ICC ranged from 0.28 to 0.90 (0.83 and 0.90 for the affected side).
The inter-observer agreement was found to be poor. If individual patients are assessed by two different observers, differences in range of motion of less than 20–25 degrees can not be distuinguished from measurement error. In contrast, acceptable reliability was found for the inclinometric measurements of the affected side and the differences between the sides, indicating that the inclimeter can be used in studies in which groups are compared.
PMCID: PMC434511  PMID: 15196309
8.  Objective assessment, repeatability, and agreement of shoulder ROM with a 3D gyroscope 
Assessment of shoulder mobility is essential for diagnosis and clinical follow-up of shoulder diseases. Only a few highly sophisticated instruments for objective measurements of shoulder mobility are available. The recently introduced DynaPort MiniMod TriGyro ShoulderTest-System (DP) was validated earlier in laboratory trials. We aimed to assess the precision (repeatability) and agreement of this instrument in human subjects, as compared to the conventional goniometer.
The DP is a small, light-weight, three-dimensional gyroscope that can be fixed on the distal upper arm, recording shoulder abduction, flexion, and rotation. Twenty-one subjects (42 shoulders) were included for analysis. Two subsequent assessments of the same subject with a 30-minute delay in testing of each shoulder were performed with the DP in two directions (flexion and abduction), and simultaneously correlated with the measurements of a conventional goniometer. All assessments were performed by one observer. Repeatability for each method was determined and compared as the statistical variance between two repeated measurements. Agreement was illustrated by Bland-Altman-Plots with 95% limits of agreement. Statistical analysis was performed with a linear mixed regression model. Variance for repeated measurements by the same method was also estimated and compared with the likelihood-ratio test.
Evaluation of abduction showed significantly better repeatability for the DP compared to the conventional goniometer (error variance: DP = 0.89, goniometer = 8.58, p = 0.025). No significant differences were found for flexion (DP = 1.52, goniometer = 5.94, p = 0.09). Agreement assessment was performed for flexion for mean differences of 0.27° with 95% limit of agreement ranging from −7.97° to 8.51°. For abduction, the mean differences were 1.19° with a 95% limit of agreement ranging from −9.07° to 11.46°.
In summary, DP demonstrated a high precision even higher than the conventional goniometer. Agreement between both methods is acceptable, with possible deviations of up to greater than 10°. Therefore, static measurements with DP are more precise than conventional goniometer measurements. These results are promising for routine clinical use of the DP.
PMCID: PMC3614536  PMID: 23442604
Repeatability; Precision; Shoulder motion; Objective assessment; Dynaport; Gyroscope
9.  Reliability of the standard goniometry and diagrammatic recording of finger joint angles: a comparative study with healthy subjects and non-professional raters 
Diagrammatic recording of finger joint angles by using two criss-crossed paper strips can be a quick substitute to the standard goniometry. As a preliminary step toward clinical validation of the diagrammatic technique, the current study employed healthy subjects and non-professional raters to explore whether reliability estimates of the diagrammatic goniometry are comparable with those of the standard procedure.
The study included two procedurally different parts, which were replicated by assigning 24 medical students to act interchangeably as 12 subjects and 12 raters. A larger component of the study was designed to compare goniometers side-by-side in measurement of finger joint angles varying from subject to subject. In the rest of the study, the instruments were compared by parallel evaluations of joint angles similar for all subjects in a situation of simulated change of joint range of motion over time. The subjects used special guides to position the joints of their left ring finger at varying angles of flexion and extension. The obtained diagrams of joint angles were converted to numerical values by computerized measurements. The statistical approaches included calculation of appropriate intraclass correlation coefficients, standard errors of measurements, proportions of measurement differences of 5 or less degrees, and significant differences between paired observations.
Reliability estimates were similar for both goniometers. Intra-rater and inter-rater intraclass correlation coefficients ranged from 0.69 to 0.93. The corresponding standard errors of measurements ranged from 2.4 to 4.9 degrees. Repeated measurements of a considerable number of raters fell within clinically non-meaningful 5 degrees of each other in proportions comparable with a criterion value of 0.95. Data collected with both instruments could be similarly interpreted in a simulated situation of change of joint range of motion over time.
The paper goniometer and the standard goniometer can be used interchangeably by non-professional raters for evaluation of normal finger joints. The obtained results warrant further research to assess clinical performance of the paper strip technique.
PMCID: PMC3557198  PMID: 23302419
10.  Clinimetric evaluation of active range of motion measures in patients with non-specific neck pain: a systematic review 
European Spine Journal  2008;17(7):905-921.
The study is to provide a critical analysis of the research literature on clinimetric properties of instruments that can be used in daily practice to measure active cervical range of motion (ACROM) in patients with non-specific neck pain. A computerized literature search was performed in Medline, Cinahl and Embase from 1982 to January 2007. Two reviewers independently assessed the clinimetric properties of identified instruments using a criteria list. The search identified a total of 33 studies, investigating three different types of measurement instruments to determine ACROM. These instruments were: (1) different types of goniometers/inclinometers, (2) visual estimation, and (3) tape measurements. Intra- and inter-observer reliability was demonstrated for the cervical range of motion instrument (CROM), Cybex electronic digital instrument (EDI-320) and a single inclinometer. The presence of agreement was assessed for the EDI-320 and a single inclinometer. The CROM received a positive rating for construct validity. When clinical acceptability is taken into account both the CROM and the single inclinometer can be considered appropriate instruments for measuring the active range of motion in patients with non-specific neck pain in daily practice. Reliability is the aspect most frequently evaluated. Agreement, validity and responsiveness are documented less frequently.
PMCID: PMC2443270  PMID: 18427843
Non-specific neck pain; Active range of motion; Reproducibility of results; Systematic review
Electromagnetic tracking systems have enabled some investigators and clinicians to measure tri‐planar scapular motion; yet, they are not practical and affordable options for all clinicians. Currently, the ability to affordably quantify scapular motion is limited to monitoring only the motion of scapular upward rotation, with use of a digital inclinometer.
The objective of this study was to determine the criterion‐related validity of a modified digital inclinometer when used to measure the motion of scapular anterior‐posterior (AP) tilt.
Materials & Methods:
Thirteen volunteers, free from any history of shoulder injury, reported for a single testing session. Each subject underwent a brief shoulder and posture examination in order to confirm the absence of pathology. Subjects actively performed clinically relevant amounts of humeral elevation in the scapular plane while in a seated position. An electromagnetic tracking system (Ascension Technology, Burlington, VT) and a modified inclinometer (Pro 360, Baseline®, Fabrication Enterprises, White Plains, NY) were used to acquire scapular AP tilt over the same shoulder motions. Criterion‐related validity was determined using Pearson Product Moment correlations.
Correlation analyses revealed significant moderate to good associations (r = 0.63 to 0.86, p < 0.01) between scapular AP tilt measures obtained with a digital inclinometer and an electromagnetic tracking system.
A modified digital inclinometer is a moderately valid device to use for the quantification of scapular AP tilt. Further study is warranted to establish reliability and to validate use of the device in patients with shoulder injury or pathology. The modified inclinometer expands the clinician's ability to quantify scapular kinematic motion during the clinical evaluation and rehabilitation process.
Level of Evidence:
Level 3
PMCID: PMC4196329  PMID: 25328827
inclinometer; scapula; scapular kinematics shoulder; validity
12.  Validity and reliability of using photography for measuring knee range of motion: a methodological study 
The clinimetric properties of knee goniometry are essential to appreciate in light of its extensive use in the orthopaedic and rehabilitative communities. Intra-observer reliability is thought to be satisfactory, but the validity and inter-rater reliability of knee goniometry often demonstrate unacceptable levels of variation. This study tests the validity and reliability of measuring knee range of motion using goniometry and photographic records.
Design: Methodology study assessing the validity and reliability of one method ('Marker Method') which uses a skin marker over the greater trochanter and another method ('Line of Femur Method') which requires estimation of the line of femur. Setting: Radiology and orthopaedic departments of two teaching hospitals. Participants: 31 volunteers (13 arthritic and 18 healthy subjects). Knee range of motion was measured radiographically and photographically using a goniometer. Three assessors were assessed for reliability and validity. Main outcomes: Agreement between methods and within raters was assessed using concordance correlation coefficient (CCCs). Agreement between raters was assessed using intra-class correlation coefficients (ICCs). 95% limits of agreement for the mean difference for all paired comparisons were computed.
Validity (referenced to radiographs): Each method for all 3 raters yielded very high CCCs for flexion (0.975 to 0.988), and moderate to substantial CCCs for extension angles (0.478 to 0.678). The mean differences and 95% limits of agreement were narrower for flexion than they were for extension. Intra-rater reliability: For flexion and extension, very high CCCs were attained for all 3 raters for both methods with slightly greater CCCs seen for flexion (CCCs varied from 0.981 to 0.998). Inter-rater reliability: For both methods, very high ICCs (min to max: 0.891 to 0.995) were obtained for flexion and extension. Slightly higher coefficients were obtained for flexion compared to extension, and with the Marker compared to the Line of Femur Method. For intra- and inter-rater reliability, the mean differences (within 2 degrees) and 95% limits of agreement (within 5 degrees) were generally clinically acceptable for both methods.
Photography potentially offers a superior method of measurement over standard goniometry as visualising the centre of the knee is simplified in a two-dimensional plane and the permanent record provides greater assessor transparency as well as opportunity to confer. The Marker and Line of Femur Methods have moderate to substantial validity, but the inter- and intra-rater repeatability for trained observers are excellent with both methods yielding small mean differences with narrow limits of agreement. The Line of Femur Method offers the added advantage that it does not rely on inter-clinician consistency in identifying the greater trochanter.
PMCID: PMC3095577  PMID: 21496347
13.  Validity and test-retest reliability of manual goniometers for measuring passive hip range of motion in femoroacetabular impingement patients. 
The aims of this study were to evaluate the construct validity (known group), concurrent validity (criterion based) and test-retest (intra-rater) reliability of manual goniometers to measure passive hip range of motion (ROM) in femoroacetabular impingement patients and healthy controls.
Passive hip flexion, abduction, adduction, internal and external rotation ROMs were simultaneously measured with a conventional goniometer and an electromagnetic tracking system (ETS) on two different testing sessions. A total of 15 patients and 15 sex- and age-matched healthy controls participated in the study.
The goniometer provided greater hip ROM values compared to the ETS (range 2.0-18.9 degrees; P < 0.001); good concurrent validity was only achieved for hip abduction and internal rotation, with intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC) of 0.94 and 0.88, respectively. Both devices detected lower hip abduction ROM in patients compared to controls (P < 0.01). Test-retest reliability was good with ICCs higher 0.90, except for hip adduction (0.82-0.84). Reliability estimates did not differ between the goniometer and the ETS.
The present study suggests that goniometer-based assessments considerably overestimate hip joint ROM by measuring intersegmental angles (e.g., thigh flexion on trunk for hip flexion) rather than true hip ROM. It is likely that uncontrolled pelvic rotation and tilt due to difficulties in placing the goniometer properly and in performing the anatomically correct ROM contribute to the overrating of the arc of these motions. Nevertheless, conventional manual goniometers can be used with confidence for longitudinal assessments in the clinic.
PMCID: PMC2942800  PMID: 20807405
14.  Reliability of radiographic measurements of knee motion following knee arthroplasty for use in a virtual knee clinic 
We sought to validate radiographic measurements of range of motion of the knee after arthroplasty as part of a new system of virtual clinics.
The range of motion of 52 knees in 45 patients was obtained by 2 clinicians using standardised techniques and goniometers. Inter-rater reliability and intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) were calculated. Radiographs of these patients’ knees in full active flexion and extension were also used to calculate intra and inter-rater reliability compared with clinical measurements using four different methods for plotting angles on the radiographs.
The ICC for inter-rater reliability using the goniometer was very high. The ICC was 0.91 in extension and 0.85 in flexion while repeatability was 8.49° (-8.03–8.99°) in extension and 5.23° (-4.54–5.74°) in flexion. The best ICC for radiographic measurement in extension was 0.86, indicating ‘near perfect’ agreement, and repeatability was 5.43° (-4.04–6.12°). The best ICC in flexion was 0.95 and repeatability was 5.82° (-3.38–6.55°). The ICC for intrarater reliability was 0.98 for extension and 0.99 for flexion on radiographic measurements.
Validating the use of radiographs to reliably measure range of motion following knee arthroplasty has allowed us to set up a ‘virtual knee clinic’. Combining validated questionnaires and radiographic measurement of range of motion, we aim to maintain high quality patient surveillance following knee arthroplasty, reduce our ratio for new to follow-up patients in line with Department of Health guidelines and improve patient satisfaction through reduced travel to hospital outpatients.
PMCID: PMC3954248  PMID: 23031771
Knee; Outpatient; Radiograph
15.  Measurement of scapula upward rotation: a reliable clinical procedure 
Background: It is important to deal with the scapula when developing rehabilitation strategies for the shoulder complex. This requires clinical measurement tools that are readily available and easy to apply and which provide a reliable evaluation of scapula motion.
Method: Twenty six patients were assessed in two repeat tests within a single testing session. Patients exhibiting a wide spectrum of shoulder pathology were selected. The angle of scapular upward rotation was measured during total shoulder abduction. The measurement protocol was performed twice during a single testing session by a single tester. Results of the two tests were compared and the reliability assessed by intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs).
Results: There was no significant difference in the scapula measurements taken during the two tests at each testing position. Overall, there was very good intrarater reliability (ICC = 0.88). The ICC ranged from 0.81 (at 135°) to 0.94 (at both resting and end of total shoulder abduction range).
Conclusion: The Plurimeter-V gravity inclinometer can be used effectively and reliably for measuring upward rotation of the scapula in all ranges of shoulder abduction in the coronal plane.
PMCID: PMC1725319  PMID: 16118295
16.  Intra-instrument reliability of 4 goniometers 
Cervical spine ROM movements taken accurately with reliable measuring devices are important in outcome measures as well as in measuring disability.
To compare the active cervical spine ROM in healthy young adult population using 4 different goniometers.
Subjects were tested during active cervical spine ROM. The devices were a single hinge inclinometer, single bubble carpenter's inclinometer, dual bubble goniometers and Cybex EDI 320 electrical inclinometer. All subjects were tested for rotational limits along each of the orthogonal axes of movement. There are 3 trials for each movement direction, except rotation was not measured with the Cybex as per manual suggestions. The subjects were randomly assigned to the sequence of devices.
Twenty-seven student volunteers (19 men and 8 women) were tested. Ages ranged from 21 to 41, mean age of 27.6 years of age.
Active cervical spine ROM trials for each measurement was used to calculate mean and standard deviation. An overall analysis of variance (ANOVA) and Bonferroni adjusted T-test were determined in order to calculate reliability and significance.
The cost of the instruments were not used in determining reliability or significance. The single hinge inclinometer was found to be a reliable measure but not likely valid. The Cybex EDI 320 was found to be the best measuring device; however, the 2 instruments whose cost were in-between the single hinge inclinometer and the electrical goniometer were just as reliable as the more expensive device. The AMA Guides of Impairment were used as the normative data to compare these devices.
Since the devices could measure reliably, whether expensive or more cost effective for students they would likely make adequate devices for training students on the methods for measuring ROM. There is previous data to suggest that older populations have gender differences and age differences with ROM. This study could not measure that and would make a useful follow-up study.
PMCID: PMC2646966  PMID: 19674601
Cervical Spine; ROM; Goniometers
Posterior shoulder tightness (PST) has been implicated in the etiology of numerous shoulder disorders. Although reliable and valid measures have been described for the non‐operative population one does not exist for the post‐operative population.
Study Design:
Blinded repeated measures design.
Investigate the intrarater reliability, minimal detectable change at the 90% confidence interval (MDC90) and construct validity of an inclinometric measurement designed to quantify PST in the post‐operative population.
One investigator performed PST measurements on the operative shoulder of 23 participants. Passive internal and external rotation measurements were performed for the validity component of the investigation.
Intrarater reliability using an intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) model 3,k was good (ICC = 0.79). The MDC90 indicated that a change of greater than or equal to 8 degrees would be required to be 90% certain that a change in the measurement would not be the result of inter‐trial variability or measurement error. Construct validity was supported by a statistically significant relationship between PST and internal rotation r = 0.54 and by a relationship between PST and external rotation r = 0.30 which was not statistically significant.
The sidelying procedure described in this investigation appears to be a reliable and valid means for quantifying PST in the post‐operative population. Moreover, the use of inclinometry provides an absolute angle of tightness that may be used for intersubject comparison, documenting change, and to determine reference values.
Level of Evidence:
Therapy, level 2b
PMCID: PMC3537463  PMID: 23316420
capsule; flexibility; mobility; range of motion
18.  Reproducibility of cervical range of motion in patients with neck pain 
Reproducibility measurements of the range of motion are an important prerequisite for the interpretation of study results. The aim of the study is to assess the intra-rater and inter-rater reproducibility of the measurement of active Range of Motion (ROM) in patients with neck pain using the Cybex Electronic Digital Inclinometer-320 (EDI-320).
In an outpatient clinic in a primary care setting 32 patients with at least 2 weeks of pain and/or stiffness in the neck were randomly assessed, in a test- retest design with blinded raters using a standardized measurement protocol. Cervical flexion-extension, lateral flexion and rotation were assessed.
Reliability expressed by the Intraclass Correlation Coefficient (ICC) was 0.93 (lateral flexion) or higher for intra-rater reliability and 0.89 (lateral flexion) or higher for inter-rater reliability. The 95% limits of agreement for intra-rater agreement, expressing the range of the differences between two ratings were -2.5 ± 11.1° for flexion-extension, -0.1 ± 10.4° for lateral flexion and -5.9 ± 13.5° for rotation. For inter-rater agreement the limits of agreement were 3.3 ± 17.0° for flexion-extension, 0.5 ± 17.0° for lateral flexion and -1.3 ± 24.6° for rotation.
In general, the intra-rater reproducibility and the inter-rater reproducibility were good. We recommend to compare the reproducibility and clinical applicability of the EDI-320 inclinometer with other cervical ROM measures in symptomatic patients.
PMCID: PMC1343553  PMID: 16351719
19.  Evaluation of an apparatus to be combined with a smartphone for the early detection of spinal deformities 
Scoliosis  2014;9:10.
Mobile smartphones are equipped with inclinometers enabling them to acquire angular clinical measures. The Scolioscreen has been developed in conjunction with a smartphone APP to enable the measure of the angle of trunk inclination (ATI) thus offering a convenient and reliable means to measure and screen for spinal deformities. The objective was to compare the reliability and accuracy of a Scolioscreen-smartphone combination, a smartphone alone, and a Scoliometer, for measuring the angle of trunk inclination in spinal deformities under blinded conditions for intra- and inter-observer analyses.
A cohort of 39 patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis were recruited. Each had maximum ATI measured by 3 observers: attending spine surgeon, nurse, and parent presenting with patient. Two series of measurements were performed by each observer using Scolioscreen-smartphone, smartphone alone and Scoliometer. Intra-class correlation coefficients (ICC) from two-way mixed model based on absolute agreement were used to assess intra- and inter-observer reliability as well as consistency between measurement techniques.
Intra- and inter-observer reliability for measuring maximum ATI was 0.94-0.89 with Scolioscreen-smartphone, decreased to 0.89-0.75 for smartphone alone, and was 0.95- 0.89 for Scoliometer. Considering Scoliometer measurement taken by surgeon the gold standard, there was excellent consistency with measurements from Scolioscreen-smartphone taken by surgeon (ICC = 0.99), nurse (ICC = 0.95), and parent (ICC = 0.91). Conversely, consistency decreased when surgeon (ICC = 0.86), nurse (ICC = 0.86) and parent (ICC = 0.85) used smartphone alone.
Study shows the Scolioscreen-smartphone to overcome limitations associated with ATI measurements using smartphones alone. The Scolioscreen-smartphone provides a reliability and consistency similar to the gold standard (use of Scoliometer by spine surgeon) and enables a parent to take reliable measurements on their own thus offering an accessible and convenient tool for all to use.
PMCID: PMC4113777  PMID: 25075208
Scoliosis; Early detection; Screening; Smartphone; Angle of trunk inclination; Diagnosis
20.  A comparison of hallux valgus angles assessed with computerised plantar pressure measurements, clinical examination and radiography in patients with diabetes 
Hallux valgus deformity is a common musculoskeletal foot disorder with a prevalence of 3.5% in adolescents to 35.7% in adults aged over 65 years. Radiographic measurements of hallux valgus angles (HVA) are considered to be the most reproducible and accurate assessment of HVA. However, in European countries, many podiatrists do not have direct access to radiographic facilities. Therefore, alternative measurements are desired. Such measurements are computerised plantar pressure measurement and clinical goniometry. The purpose of this study was to establish the agreement of these techniques and radiographic assessments.
HVA was determined in one hundred and eighty six participants suffering from diabetes. Radiographic measurements of HVA were performed with standardised static weight bearing dorsoplantar foot radiographs.
The clinical goniometry for HVA was measured with a universal goniometer. Computerised plantar pressure measurement for HVA was executed with the EMED SF-4® pressure platform and Novel-Ortho-Geometry software. The intra-class correlation coefficients (ICC) and levels of agreement were analysed using Bland & Altman plots.
Comparison of radiographic measurements to clinical goniometry for HVA showed an intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) of 0.81 (95% confidence interval, 0.76 to 0.86; p<0.001). Radiographic measurement versus computerised plantar pressure measurement showed an ICC of 0.59 (95% confidence interval, 0.49 to 0.68; p<0.001). In addition, clinical goniometry versus computerised plantar pressure measurement showed an ICC of 0.77 (95% confidence interval, 0.70 to 0.82; p<0.001). The systematic difference of the computerised plantar pressure measurement compared with radiographic measurement and clinical goniometry was 7.0 degrees (SD 6.8) and 5.2 degrees (SD 5.0), respectively. The systemic difference of radiographic measurements compared with clinical goniometry was 1.8 degrees (SD 5.0).
The agreement of computerised plantar pressure measurement and clinical goniometry for HVA compared to radiographic measurement of HVA is unsatisfactory. Radiographic measurements of HVA and clinical goniometry for HVA yield better agreement compared to radiographic measurements and computerised plantar pressure measurement. The traditional radiographic measurement techniques are strongly recommended for the assessment of HVA.
PMCID: PMC4114410  PMID: 25075224
21.  Is Diagrammatic Goniometry Feasible for Finger ROM Evaluation and Self-evaluation? 
While “diagrammatic” evaluation of finger joint angles using two folded paper strips as goniometric arms has been proposed and could be an alternative to standard goniometry and a means for self-evaluation, the measurement differences and reliability are unknown.
This study assessed the standard and diagrammatic finger goniometry performed by an experienced examiner on patients in terms of (1) intragoniometer and intergoniometer (ie, intrarater) differences and reliability; (2) interrater differences and reliability relative to patients’ diagrammatic self-evaluation; and (3) the interrater differences related to patient’s hand dominance.
Sixty-one patients without previous training self-evaluated active extension of all joints of the fifth finger of one hand once using two rectangular strips of paper. A practitioner used a goniometer and a diagram to perform parallel evaluations once in 12 patients and three times in 49 patients. The diagrams were scanned and measured. All evaluations and proportions of differences between the paired measurements of 5° or less were combined for analysis.
Intrarater intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC) based on the second and third practitioner’s trials for the proximal interphalangeal joint were greater than 0.99. Reliability was poor when calculations involved the first measurement of the practitioner (ICCs < 0.38). Interrater reliability was poor regardless of the practitioner’s trial (ICCs < 0.033). The proportions of the absolute differences of 5° or less between all paired practitioner’s measurements were similar. The proportions of the acceptable differences between paired practitioner’s and patients’ measurements were nonequivalent for the interphalangeal joints. The interrater differences did not depend on patients’ handedness.
In experienced hands both techniques produce clinically comparable reliability, but patients’ performance in extempore diagrammatic self-evaluation is inadequate. Further studies are necessary to explore whether appropriate training of patients can improve consistency of diagrammatic self-evaluation.
Level of Evidence
Level III, diagnostic study. See Guidelines for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.
PMCID: PMC3706675  PMID: 23292887
22.  Errors in visual estimation of flexion contractures during total knee arthroplasty 
World Journal of Orthopedics  2013;4(3):120-123.
AIM: To quantify and reduce the errors in visual estimation of knee flexion contractures during total knee arthroplasty (TKA).
METHODS: This study was divided into two parts: Quantification of error and reduction of error. To quantify error, 3 orthopedic surgeons visually estimated preoperative knee flexion contractures from lateral digital images of 23 patients prior to and after surgical draping. A repeated-measure analysis of variance was used to compare the estimated angles prior to and following the placement of the surgical drapes with the true knee angle measured with a long-arm goniometer. In an effort to reduce the error of visual estimation, a dual set of inclinometers was developed to improve intra-operative measurement of knee flexion contracture during TKA. A single surgeon performed 6 knee extension measurements with the device during 146 consecutive TKA cases. Three measurements were taken with the desired tibial liner trial thickness, and 3 were taken with a trial that was 2 mm thicker. An intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) was calculated to assess the test-retest reliability for the 3 measurements taken with the desired liner thickness, and a paired t test was used to determine if the knee extension measurements differed when a thicker tibial trial liner was placed.
RESULTS: The surgeons significantly overestimated flexion contractures in 23 TKAs prior to draping and significantly underestimated the contractures after draping (actual knee angle = 6.1° ± 6.4°, pre-drape estimate = 6.9° ± 6.8°, post-drape estimate = 4.3° ± 6.1°, P = 0.003). Following the development and application of the measurement devices, the measurements were highly reliable (ICC = 0.98), and the device indicated that 2.7° ± 2.2° of knee extension was lost with the insertion of a 2 mm thicker tibial liner. The device failed to detect a difference in knee extension angle with the insertion of the 2 mm thicker liner in 9/146 cases (6.2%).
CONCLUSION: We determined the amount of error associated with visual estimation of knee flexion contractures, and developed a simple, reliable device and method to improve feedback related to sagittal alignment during TKA.
PMCID: PMC3717244  PMID: 23878779
Extension; Knee; Arthroplasty; Flexion contracture
23.  The Reliability and Validity of the Computerized Double Inclinometer in Measuring Lumbar Mobility 
Study Design :
Repeated measures reliability/validity study.
Objectives :
To determine the concurrent validity, test-retest, inter-rater and intra-rater reliability of lumbar flexion and extension measurements using the Tracker M.E. computerized dual inclinometer (CDI) in comparison to the modified-modified Schober (MMS)
Summary of Background :
Numerous studies have evaluated the reliability and validity of the various methods of measuring spinal motion, but the results are inconsistent. Differences in equipment and techniques make it difficult to correlate results.
Methods :
Twenty subjects with back pain and twenty without back pain were selected through convenience sampling. Two examiners measured sagittal plane lumbar range of motion for each subject. Two separate tests with the CDI and one test with the MMS were conducted. Each test consisted of three trials. Instrument and examiner order was randomly assigned. Intra-class correlations (ICCs 2, 2 and 2, 2) and Pearson correlation coefficients (r) were used to calculate reliability and concurrent validity respectively.
Results :
Intra-trial reliability was high to very high for both the CDI (ICCs 0.85 - 0.96) and MMS (ICCs 0.84 - 0.98). However, the reliability was poor to moderate, when the CDI unit had to be repositioned either by the same rate (ICCs 0.16 - 0.59) or a different rater (ICCs 0.45 - 0.52). Inter-rater reliability for the MMS was moderate to high (ICCs 0.75 - 0.82) which bettered the moderate correlation obtained for the CDI (ICCs 0.45 - 0.52). Correlations between the CDI and MMS were poor for flexion (0.32; p<0.05) and poor to moderate (-0.42 - -0.51; p<0.05) for extension measurements.
Conclusion :
When using the CDI, an average of subsequent tests is required to obtain moderate reliability. The MMS was highly reliable than the CDI. The MMS and the CDI measure lumbar movement on a different metric that are not highly related to each other.
PMCID: PMC4209501  PMID: 25352928
Computerized dual inclinometer; low back pain; modified-modified Schober; reliability; construct validity.
24.  Clinical measurement of the thoracic kyphosis. A study of the intra-rater reliability in subjects with and without shoulder pain 
Clinical sagittal plane assessment of the thoracic kyphosis angle is considered an essential component of the postural examination of patients presenting with upper body pain syndromes. Cervical headaches and conditions involving the shoulder, such as subacromial pain syndrome, have all been associated with an increase in the thoracic kyphosis. Concomitantly a decrease in the thoracic kyphosis as a result of a stretching and strengthening rehabilitation programme is believed to be associated with a reduction in symptoms and pain and improvement in function. Clinicians generally measure the sagittal plane kyphosis angle visually. There is no certainty that this method is reliable or is capable of measuring angular changes over time or in response to intervention. As such a simple and reliable clinical method of measuring the thoracic kyphosis would enable clinicians to record this information. The aim of this investigation was to determine the intra-tester reliability of measuring the thoracic kyphosis angle using a clinical method
Measurements were made in 45 subjects with and 45 subjects without upper body symptoms. Measurements were made with the subjects in relaxed standing. Two gravity dependent inclinometers were used to measure the kyphosis. The first was placed over the region of the 1st and 2nd thoracic spinous processes. The other, over the region of the 12th thoracic and 1st lumbar spinous processes. The angle produced by each inclinometer was measured 3 times in succession. Each set of 3 measurements was made on two occasions (separated by a minimum of 30 minutes and additional data collection involving 46 further measurements of posture and movement on the same and an additional subject before the thoracic kyphosis measurements were re-measured) by one rater. The reliability of the measurements was analyzed using 2-way ANOVA intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC), 95% confidence intervals (CI) and standard error of measurement (SEM) for precision, for a single measurement [ICC(single)] and the average of 3 measures [ICC(average)]. The assessor remained 'blinded' to data input and the measurements were staggered to reduce examiner bias.
The measurement of the thoracic kyphosis as used in this investigation was found to have excellent intra-rater reliability for both subjects with and without symptoms. The ICC(single) results for the subjects without symptoms were, .95; (95% CI .91-.97). The corresponding ICC(average) results were; .97; (95% CI .95-.99). The results for the subjects with symptoms were; 93; (95% CI .88-.96), for ICC(single) and for ICC(average); .97; (95% CI .94-.98). The SEM results for subjects without and with symptoms were 1.0° and 1.7°, respectively.
The findings of this immediate test-retest reliability study suggest that the clinical measurement of the thoracic kyphosis using gravity dependent inclinometers demonstrates excellent intra-rater reliability. Additional research is required to determine the inter-rater reliability of this method.
Trial registration
National Research Register: N0060148286
PMCID: PMC2845095  PMID: 20193055
25.  Reproducibility of range of motion and muscle strength measurements in patients with hip osteoarthritis – an inter-rater study 
Assessment of range of motion (ROM) and muscle strength is fundamental in the clinical diagnosis of hip osteoarthritis (OA) but reproducibility of these measurements has mostly involved clinicians from secondary care and has rarely reported agreement parameters. Therefore, the primary objective of the study was to determine the inter-rater reproducibility of ROM and muscle strength measurements. Furthermore, the reliability of the overall assessment of clinical hip OA was evaluated. Reporting is in accordance with proposed guidelines for the reporting of reliability and agreement studies (GRRAS).
In a university hospital, four blinded raters independently examined patients with unilateral hip OA; two hospital orthopaedists independently examined 48 (24 men) patients and two primary care chiropractors examined 61 patients (29 men). ROM was measured in degrees (deg.) with a standard two-arm goniometer and muscle strength in Newton (N) using a hand-held dynamometer. Reproducibility is reported as agreement and reliability between paired raters of the same profession. Agreement is reported as limits of agreement (LoA) and reliability is reported with intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC). Reliability of the overall assessment of clinical OA is reported as weighted kappa.
Between orthopaedists, agreement for ROM ranged from LoA [-28–12 deg.] for internal rotation to [-8–13 deg.] for extension. ICC ranged between 0.53 and 0.73, highest for flexion. For muscle strength between orthopaedists, LoA ranged from [-65–47N] for external rotation to [-10 –59N] for flexion. ICC ranged between 0.52 and 0.85, highest for abduction. Between chiropractors, agreement for ROM ranged from LoA [-25–30 deg.] for internal rotation to [-13–21 deg.] for flexion. ICC ranged between 0.14 and 0.79, highest for flexion. For muscle strength between chiropractors, LoA ranged between [-80–20N] for external rotation to [-146–55N] for abduction. ICC ranged between 0.38 and 0.81, highest for flexion. Weighted kappa for the overall assessment of clinical hip OA was 0.52 between orthopaedists and 0.65 between chiropractors.
Reproducibility of goniometric and dynamometric measurements of ROM and muscle strength in patients with hip OA is poor between experienced orthopaedists and between experienced chiropractors. Orthopaedists and chiropractors can to a moderate degree differentiate between hips with or without osteoarthritis.
PMCID: PMC3565957  PMID: 23217149
Hip; Examination; Inter-observer; Reliability; Osteoarthritis; Hip

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