Reliability of Inclinometer and Goniometric Measurements

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Clinical application

Mobility assessment is a fundamental and integral component in doing a physical examination in healthcare vicinities. Inclinometer and goniometric measurements are essential in examining mobility and joint integrity, and they enable a clinician to choose the proper physical therapy intervention. The instruments allow the recognition of impairment, and the diagnoses improve the deterioration of functional limitations (1). Having reliable and accurate measurements is fundamental in ensuring the disease progression is noted and appropriate measures are taken to ensure the medical field deals with it. When the instrumentations are accompanied by visual observation and linear measurements, it can assess shoulder mobility. The wide array of movable parts enables clinicians to speculate around 180 degrees of flexibility. The standard plinth of a digital inclinometer can measure up to an angle of 180 degrees.

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Reasons for doing the research

The clinical rehabilitation of the goniometric and the inclinometer assessment measures the extension of the hip extension. The intra and interrater reliability of the instruments when measuring flexibility using the modified Thomas test was used to show the accuracy of the clinical setting when measuring the motion of patients. Whenever two clinicians can produce similar results during various tests, the data would give confidence to other practitioners. The Thomas test was used to assess the flexibility of four types of hip flexor muscles: the rectus femoris, psoas major, the iliacus, and the tensor fascie latae (1). The inclinometer is known to measure joint motions to mark accuracy using the goniometers. The research aims to unfold whether the angle measurements permit the rotation of an object in a definite position.

Tests and measurements used in the study

The research used the extension flexibility matric to determine the interrater reliability of each instrument (r= 0.91- 0.93; ICC=0.89-0.92). The correlations of high interrater parallel forms reliability to be (r=0.86-0.93; ICC= 0.86-0.92) reliable in measuring hip extension flexibility (1). The likelihood of the instruments being used interchangeably is a new mileage that can ensure clinicians have a wide range of instruments whenever they want to measure the angular flexibility of the hip. The goniometric measurements had minor errors in substantiating the landmarks of the trigonometric principles. However, using the Thomas test, the principles of vertical displacement within the upper part of the lower extremity can be used to determine the hip angle.

Strengths and weakness of the research

Goniometry has the limitation of requiring the clinician to use both hands when handling it. This makes it hard for the medical practitioner to stabilize, resulting in an increased error in the measurement of angles and readings. However, goniometry is widely used in various clinics because it is readily available and cheaper. The inclinometer is a practical alternative that can incorporate the usage of constant gravity as a central reference point to get joint mobility. All digital inclinometers are lightweight, portable, and use the same training as goniometry. The only weakness of a digital inclinometer is that it is more costly to acquire than conventional goniometers (1). They also require the clinician to establish zero-point whenever they use the digital inclinometer, making it prone to errors whenever the user assumes it. Measurement errors for new users of the digital inclinometer are prone to occur when a practitioner used to goniometers is given an inclinometer.


1. Clapis P, Davis S, Davis R. Reliability of inclinometer and goniometric measurements of hip extension flexibility using the modified Thomas test. Physiother Theory Pract. 2008; 24(2):135-141.