This is a series of articles where we invite guests to write about relevant topics in rehabilitation and sports sciences.
Written by: Roberto Ćaćan, MSc in Physiotherapy, owner of Kinetic Center
Physiotherapy research community actively takes part in developing, and supporting the use of novel technology and outcome measures. On the other side, physiotherapists (depending on the region) seem not to share the same amount of enthusiasm, whether they work in clinical or in sports settings. With an increase in healthcare costs, insurance companies' demands, as well as patients and athletes holding us accountable, we see significant steps forward being made.
For example, for physiotherapists such as myself who tend to use novel technology out of curiosity and genuine understanding of its benefits, the introduction of outcome measures in everyday practice is expected and fully embraced.
Outcome measures have a wide spectrum of applications, from providing important patient information in relation to symptoms, risk, and status change in response to treatment, to scientific data which can be used in the investigation of various therapeutic interventions *1.
One of the biggest challenges of newly introduced technology is its diagnostic reliability, validity, as well as feasibility in everyday practice. Therefore, force measurement solutions such as EasyForce should be seriously taken into consideration. EasyForce is a dynamometer with an external fixation as opposed to hand-held dynamometers. External fixation provides an extra amount of reliability and is, therefore, less prone to human bias and errors. As opposed to other rigid solutions such as isokinetic dynamometers, EasyForce represents a practical, affordable, and yet reliable solution for gaining quick insight into muscle strength.
Personally, I enjoy explaining the ‘obvious’ progress by using simple and exact quantitative data. Along with that, patients’ compliance with the rehabilitation process increases due to the possibility of setting objective outcome goals. In that way, the patient’s curiosity about the results of the final assessment is evident and as such, it naturally increases their drive and motivation to continue rehabilitation plans.
Other than in the clinic, we use EasyForce in sports settings quite frequently. We carefully developed a battery of tests used to quantify scientifically proven injury risk factors such as strength symmetry, hop test symmetry, vertical jump symmetry, landing kinematics, and many more. We standardized the use of those tests in both returns to sport assessment as well as in athletes' functional screening. Athletes’ performance is also measured in terms of the most important skills such as speed, power, change of direction, reactive agility, neurocognition, and endurance. When all the results are summed, a detailed functional profile of an individual is created with practical pointers as to the ways for additional performance enhancement or specific injury prevention strategies.
With a dose of creativity and scientific discernment, nowadays physiotherapists truly can minimize costs while at the same time maximizing the reliability of the data that they collect. This is where devices such as EasyForce come in handy, especially due to the validity of small, portable, and easy-to-use dynamometers in comparison to isokinetic dynamometry *2.
Therefore, whether you use it for basic insight into muscle strength values, bilateral strength symmetry, and antagonistic muscle group ratio or as a part of a more comprehensive assessment, it will serve you well. Measuring knee flexion/extension or hip adduction/abduction for example is now a part of our routine practice, due to recently published EasyForce reliability data *3.
Overall, what made us curious about the applications of EasyForce is its simplicity, cost-benefit, test-retest reliability, and easiness of use, which made us really want one at our Kinetic Center. We are looking forward to new research and knowledge being shared!
1. Beattie, P. (2001). Measurement of health outcomes in the clinical setting: applications to physiotherapy. Physiotherapy Theory and Practice, 17(3), 173-185.
2. Stark, T., Walker, B., Phillips, J. K., Fejer, R., & Beck, R. (2011). Hand-held dynamometry correlation with the gold standard isokinetic dynamometry: a systematic review. PM&R, 3(5), 472-479.
3. Kozinc, Ž., Smajla, D., Trajković, N., & Šarabon, N. (2021). Reliability of EasyForce Dynamometer for Assessment of Maximal Knee and Hip Strength, and Comparison to Rigid Isometric Dynamometers with External Fixation. Measurement in Physical Education and Exercise Science, 1-13.