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Chiropractic Research Review

Cervical ROM Assessment: Is One Method Better than Another?

Research on range-of-motion (ROM) often utilizes so many measuring instruments and statistical analyses that it can be difficult to select suitable instruments, procedures and normative values to apply in the clinical setting.

Although ROM reviews have detailed various measurement methods for the cervical spine and have included brief reviews of the literature, the authors contend that no previous study has served as a "comprehensive synthesis of the normative cervical ROM literature."

Studies were included in this review if they reported ROM values, variability or reliability using asymptomatic subjects, or if they represented a specific type of study known as a concurrent validity study. ROM and data regarding the reliability of ROM procedures were grouped by technology and types of motion; clinical validity was assessed; and changes in ROM as a function of age were determined by comparing decade ratios.

Nine different technologies for assessing ROM were identified in the review. Variations within each technology were as large as (or larger than) those between technologies, which the authors suggest may indicate that clinical procedures are as important as the accuracy and precision of the technology itself. Additionally, passive motion was determined to be greater than active motion, and range of motion decreased as age increased (with women exhibiting greater ROM than men). The authors noted that reliability was not adequately tested for the majority of technologies reviewed.

The authors suggest that "...practitioners limit their selection of instruments and the types of motion to those that have demonstrated good reliability." They offer examples such as single inclinometry for assessing active motions and potentiometry for measuring static and dynamic ROM of active and passive motions.

Chen J, Solinger AB, Poncet JF, et al. Meta-analysis of normative cervical motion. Spine, Aug. 1, 1999:24(15), pp1571-78.

Chiropractic Research Review

Dynamic Chiropractic
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