WCPT Africa Region Conference System, 9th WCPT Africa Region Congress

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Reliability of physical therapy students in estimating and measuring range of motion in the knee
Maryam M Almandil, Khaloud Al-enzi, Abrar Al-Enzi, Anwar Al-Enzi

Last modified: 2012-02-07



Background: Measuring active range of motion (ROM) in clinical settings is used as an outcome measure for determining diagnosis, and treatment effects. Universal plastic goniometer is one of the tools used by physical therapists to obtain an objective measure of the range. However, in busy departments therapists may use visual estimation (VE) as another option for evaluating ROM.

The studies that assessed the reliability of measuring ROM have demonstrated variable findings depending upon the joint measured, the type of instrument used on the joint and the experience of the therapist.

Objective: To compare the third and fourth year students' reliability in estimating and measuring knee flexion.

Methodology: Participants estimated knee flexion and measured it using plastic goniometer. All measurements were done on the same model using the left leg and were repeated 3 times. The knee angle was stabilized at 120° using a wedge.

Results: Participated in the study 30 third year students and 30fourth year students. Using reliability analysis ICC, mean and standard deviation for the 3 readings of the third year was as follows: 0.77- 116.80- 4.7 / 0.54- 117.3- 5.1/ 0.071- 119.8- 9.06 . ICC ,mean and standard deviation of the 3 readings for the fourth year was as follows: 0.66 - 115.5 - 4.0 / 0.47-115.5 - 4.3 / 0 .19 - 117.7 - 8.8. Other findings are also discussed.

Discussion: Findings reveal moderate to poor inter rater reliability. Contrary to what was taught to students; findings reveal that reliability decreased as repetition increased, which means taking a mean of two readings would give better representations of the range than 3 readings. Using markers on land marks could also improve consistency as none of the student used it in their measurements.

Conclusion: Though there was agreement between VE and goniometric measurements, goniometer remains to be a better objective tool as it can minimize the errors associated with measurements especially with newly graduated therapists. The current study need to be replicated on experienced physiotherapists to examine the effects of experience on their ability to estimate and measure

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