Clinical Strength Assessment – April 2017

By: Dr. Marc Sherry PT, DPT, LAT, CSCS, PES

The NFL Combine, held prior to each year’s draft, evaluates participants in the bench press and vertical jump along with a variety of other tests. The Army physical fitness test includes a number of push-ups and sit-ups in 2 minutes, pull ups and a two-mile run. Interestingly, these tests are not utilized because they are specific to the sport or to the military or even a direct indicator of performance.  For example, a defensive back’s repetitions on a bench press test do not measure how well he can cover a wide receiver on the football field.  Yet, these tests persist because they are objective, reproducible measurements of strength and fitness. Thus, they can easily be used to compare differences between individuals and changes in individual performance over time.

Similarly, after injury or surgery, one’s ability to regain strength over time is one of the cornerstones to successful rehabilitation and return to work or sport.  In addition, measuring strength from limb to limb or a comparison of strength across a group of people can be an effective method of screening for potential injury.

Historically, the options for objective, reproducible and efficient methods to measure strength have been very limited.  The two primary methods of clinical strength assessment are manual muscle testing and isokinetic dynamometry.

Manual Muscle Testing

Unfortunately, manual muscle testing is not very sensitive or specific and varies significantly from individual to individual and clinician to clinician.

Isokinetic dynamometry, on the other hand, can provide very objective and reproducible measurement, but also has significant limitations.  The primary obstacles for its use include significant cost, lack of portability and the inability to adapt test positions or test movements that involve more than one joint.

Traditional Dynamometer Testing

These long-standing clinical frustrations are a thing of the past, thanks to the Kiio force sensor. The Kiio force sensor provides precise, objective assessment data with a footprint the size of a deck of cards, which provides excellent portability and adaptability.

A study by Dr. Grabowski recently published in Military Medicine found the Kiio sensor had excellent reliability, responsiveness and validity. This study tested rotator cuff strength on 44 physically active adults using the Kiio force sensor and an isokinetic dynamometer. The study concluded both methods were valid, but Kiio wins on a variety of other factors including cost, portability and adaptability.

The portability, reliability, and validity of the Kiio sensor give it tremendous potential for injury prevention as well as injury rehabilitation. Currently, the UW Health Sports Rehabilitation group and select professional and amateur baseball clubs are using Kiio’s force sensor for pre-season and in-season screening.  The goal is to identify changes in strength ratios or a drop in strength as a leading indicator to potential injury, so preventative measures can be taken. UW Health also recently received a grant from the Department of Defense to study tendinopathy and the Kiio sensor will assess force, power and endurance as in an integral part of the study.

In addition to applications in clinical research and larger population assessments, the Kiio force sensor also provides value in daily patient care. The portability and ease of use allows physical therapists and rehab professionals to quickly re-assess patient strength and objectively measure changes since their last session. The availability of more precise data allows therapists to develop superior treatment programs, proactively implement changes, and apply appropriate progressions. This, in turn, benefits the patient through quicker recovery and enhanced rehabilitation.

The cost-effective and clinically validated results of the Kiio force sensor make it an excellent choice for a variety of applications spanning clinical research, elite athletic training, and daily clinical use. Click here to review Kiio’s rehabilitation solutions and request more information or a demo.