The measurement of finger and wrist range of motion (ROM) is of great importance to clinicians when assessing functional outcomes of therapeutic interventions and surgical procedures. The purpose of the study was to assess the repeatability of ROM measurements of the hand joints with manual goniometer and 3D motion capture system and to calculate the minimal detectable difference for both methods.
Active finger and wrist joints ROM of 20 healthy volunteers were assessed using a manual goniometer and 3D motion capture system. Minimal detectable difference (MDD) and standard error of measurement (SEM) were calculated for both measurement systems and compared within the same task. Maximal ROM of all joints was registered twice on two different days to evaluate the test-retest repeatability. The intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC) was calculated and examined to determine if reliability ≥ 0.70 existed.
MDD for the 3D motion capture was between 5 and 12° except for the metacarpophalangeal joint (MCP) 1, interphalangeal joint (IP), and MCP5. SEM values lay between 2 and 4° for all joints except for the MCP5, IP, and MCP1. For the goniometric measurements, MDD and SEM were between 12-30° and 4-11°, respectively. The reliability criterion (ICC > 0.7) was achieved for the ROM measurement with the 3D motion capture system for 94% of the joints and in only 65% of the joints with the manual goniometer.
Joint ROM assessed with 3D motion analysis showed higher test-retest agreement demonstrating overall better repeatability for this method. Because of the smaller measurement error, the 3D motion capture system has a smaller MDD. Only individual test-rest differences bigger than the MDD can be considered as real changes, and therefore, in an experimental situation, the use of a more precise measurement method can greatly reduce the number of subjects needed for a statistical significance. Goniometer measurements of some joints should be carefully interpreted, due to a low repeatability and reliability.
This study is approved by the Ethical Committee Zurich ( Kek-ZH-Nr: 2015-0395 ).