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Phys Ther. 1987 Dec;67(12):1867-72.

Clinical measurement of range of motion. Review of goniometry emphasizing reliability and validity.

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Physical Therapy Program, University of Montana, Missoula 59812-1201.


Clinical measurement of range of motion is a fundamental evaluation procedure with ubiquitous application in physical therapy. Objective measurements of ROM and correct interpretation of the measurement results can have a substantial impact on the development of the scientific basis of therapeutic interventions. The purpose of this article is to review the related literature on the reliability and validity of goniometric measurements of the extremities. Special emphasis is placed on how the reliability of goniometry is influenced by instrumentation and procedures, differences among joint actions and body regions, passive versus active measurements, intratester versus intertester measurements, and different patient types. Our discussion of validity encourages objective interpretation of the meaning of ROM measurements in light of the purposes and the limitations of goniometry. We conclude that clinicians should adopt standardized methods of testing and should interpret and report goniometric results as ROM measurements only, not as measurements of factors that may affect ROM.

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