Assessing Proprioception A Systematic Review of Possibilities

Proprioception is a vital aspect of motor control and when degraded or lost can have a profound impact on function in diverse clinical populations. This systematic review aimed to identify clinically related tools to measure proprioceptive acuity, to classify the construct(s) underpinning the tools, and to report on the clinimetric properties of the tools. We searched key databases with the pertinent search terms, and from an initial list of 935 articles, we identified 57 of relevance. These articles described 32 different tools or methods to quantify proprioception. There was wide variation in methods, the joints able to be tested, and the populations sampled. The predominant construct was active or passive joint position detection, followed by passive motion detection and motion direction discrimination. The clinimetric properties were mostly poorly evaluated or reported. The Rivermead Assessment of Somatosensory Perception was generally considered to be a valid and reliable tool but with low precision; other tools with higher precision are potentially not clinically feasible. Clinicians and clinical researchers can use the summary tables to make more informed decisions about which tool to use to match their predominant requirements. Further discussion and research is needed to produce measures of proprioception that have improved validity and utility.