Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Physical Therapy (MPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Beverly Johnson


Physical Therapy -- instrumentation; Range of Motion, Articular


Physical therapists rely on measurements to communicate with one another, establish patient status, predict treatment response, document treatment efficacy, and claim scientific credibility for the profession. Therefore, the quality of measurements should be of great concern to physical therapists and, hence, therapists should be able to examine the quality of measurement tools they are using critically. A variety of measurement tools are being utilized in physical therapy to quantify spinal mobility; however, there is no clarity as to which of the tools are optimal. In particular, the spinal range of motion measurement tools will be examined because of the high occurrence and high cost of low back injuries.

The spinal range of motion measurement tools reviewed in this study include goniometers, flexible rulers, inclinometers, motion analysis systems, the Isotechnologies B-200, and the Spinoscope. The use of each of these measurement tools has advantages and disadvantages in a clinical setting. The reliability and validity of a measurement tool should be the most important considerations, but individual clinical needs and available resources also need to be considered when choosing an appropriate spinal range of motion measurement tool. If all these factors are considered, the author recommends the use of inclinometers since many studies show the inclinometer to be both reliable and valid. The EDI 320, in particular, is recommended for its ease of application. Finally, even if a tool is shown to be reliable and valid, established protocols for measurement techniques should be followed by each clinical staff member.