Reliability and concurrent validity of a Smartphone, bubble inclinometer and motion analysis system for measurement of hip joint range of motion

Traditional methods of assessing joint range of motion (ROM) involve specialized tools that may not be widely available to clinicians. This study assesses the reliability and validity of a custom Smartphone application for assessing hip joint range of motion. Passive hip joint range of motion was recorded for seven different movements in 20 males on two separate occasions. Data from a Smartphone, bubble inclinometer and a three dimensional motion analysis (3DMA) system were collected simultaneously. Intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs), coefficients of variation (CV) and standard error of measurement (SEM) were used to assess reliability. To assess validity of the Smartphone application and the bubble inclinometer against the three dimensional motion analysis system, intraclass correlation coefficients and fixed and proportional biases were used. The Smartphone demonstrated good to excellent reliability (ICCs > 0.75) for four out of the seven movements, and moderate to good reliability for the remaining three movements (ICC = 0.63–0.68). Additionally, the Smartphone application displayed comparable reliability to the bubble inclinometer. The Smartphone application displayed excellent validity when compared to the three dimensional motion analysis system for all movements (ICCs > 0.88) except one, which displayed moderate to good validity (ICC = 0.71).

Smartphones are portable and widely available tools that are mostly reliable and valid for assessing passive hip range of motion, with potential for large-scale use when a bubble inclinometer is not available. However, caution must be taken in its implementation as some movement axes demonstrated only moderate reliability.