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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.
Fadi M. Al Zoubi and Richard A. Preuss (Corresponding Author) and with the School of Physical and Occupational Therapy, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada, and with the Constance Lethbridge Rehabilitation Centre site of the Centre de recherche interdisciplinaire en réadaptation (CRIR), Montreal, QC, Canada.