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Fadi M. Al Zoubi and Richard A. Preuss

Measuring lumbar spine range of motion (ROM) using multiple movements is impractical for clinical research, because finding statistically significant effects requires a large proportion of subjects to present with the same impairment. The purpose of this study was to develop a single measure representing the total available lumbar ROM. Twenty participants with low back pain performed three series of eight lumbar spine movements, in each of two sessions. For each series, an ellipse and a cubic spline were fit to the end-range positions, measured based on the position of the twelfth thoracic vertebra in the transverse plane of the sacrum. The area of each shape provides a measure of the total available ROM, whereas their center reflects the movements’ symmetry. Using generalizability theory, the index of dependability for the area and anterior-posterior center position was found to be 0.90, but was slightly lower for the mediolateral center position. Slightly better values were achieved using the spline-fitting approach. Further analysis also indicated that excellent reliability, and acceptable minimal detectable change values, would be achieved with a single testing session. These data indicate that the proposed measure provides a reliable and easily interpretable measure of total lumbar spine ROM.

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Richard A. Preuss and Milos R. Popovic

This study defines the limits of stability in sitting, and quantitatively assesses two measures of postural control relative to these limits. Young, healthy subjects sat, feet unsupported, on an elevated force plate. The limits of stability were determined by a least square fit of an ellipse to the center of pressure (CoP) excursion during maximal leaning in 8 directions. These were highly symmetrical and centered within the base of support. The ellipses had a mean eccentricity of 0.66 (major axis in the sagittal plane) and covered an area approx. 1/3 of the base of support. The CoP was then monitored over 4 min of quiet sitting, during which the postural sway covered an area <0.05% of the limits of stability and was closely centered within the latter. Finally, target-directed trunk movements were performed, in 5 directions, at 4 movement speeds and 3 target distances. Increased target distance and movement speed both decreased the margin of stability (distance between the CoP and the limits of stability), as did movement in the frontal plane, reflecting the eccentricity of the limits of stability. These combined findings support the validity of this quantitative method of defining the limits of stability in sitting, for healthy individuals.