The intra- and inter-rater reliability of an instrumented spasticity assessment in children with cerebral palsy

Simon Henri Schless, Kaat Desloovere, Erwin Aertbeliën, Guy Molenaers, Catherine Huenaerts, Lynn Bar-On

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27 Citations (Scopus)


Aim: Despite the impact of spasticity, there is a lack of objective, clinically reliable and valid tools for its assessment. This study aims to evaluate the reliability of various performance- and spasticity-related parameters collected with a manually controlled instrumented spasticity assessment in four lower limb muscles in children with cerebral palsy (CP). Method: The lateral gastrocnemius, medial hamstrings, rectus femoris and hip adductors of 12 children with spastic CP (12.8 years, ±4.13 years, bilateral/unilateral involvement n=7/5) were passively stretched in the sagittal plane at incremental velocities. Muscle activity, joint motion, and torque were synchronously recorded using electromyography, inertial sensors, and a force/torque load-cell. Reliability was assessed on three levels: (1) intra- and (2) interrater within session, and (3) intra-rater between session. Results: Parameters were found to be reliable in all three analyses, with 90% containing intra-class correlation coefficients >0.6, and 70% of standard error of measurement values <20% of the mean values. The most reliable analysis was intra-rater within session, followed by intra-rater between session, and then inter-rater within session. The Adds evaluation had a slightly lower level of reliability than that of the other muscles. Conclusions: Limited intrinsic/extrinsic errors were introduced by repeated stretch repetitions. The parameters were more reliable when the same rater, rather than different raters performed the evaluation. Standardisation and training should be further improved to reduce extrinsic error when different raters perform the measurement. Errors were also muscle specific, or related to the measurement set-up. They need to be accounted for, in particular when assessing pre-post interventions or longitudinal follow-up. The parameters of the instrumented spasticity assessment demonstrate a wide range of applications for both research and clinical environments in the quantification of spasticity.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere131011
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2015

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