Reliability of the Functional Reach Test Using a Mobile Pole versus the Traditional Fixed Ruler

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Physical therapy, Mobility, Measurement


Background: The Functional Reach Test (FRT), which uses a ruler fixed to a wall, has been shown to be a reliable and valid method of evaluating fall risk in seniors and persons with various neurological conditions. However, because of various logistical reasons, the FRT may be underused by therapists in some settings. A novel method of performing the FRT has been proposed using a measuring tape attached to the end of a mobile pole.

Purpose: The purpose was to evaluate and compare the interrater reliability of the FRT using both the traditional ruler and the mobile pole method.

Research Design: Repeated measures.

Method: Twenty-one persons ranging from 77 to 92 years of age from an independent living seniors complex completed both the traditional FRT and the mobile pole FRT. Tests were repeated on the same day by 2 different physical therapists.

Result: The FRT using the mobile pole was shown to have moderate-to-excellent intertester reliability (intraclass correlation coefficient = 0.827; 95% confidence interval, lower bound 0.561, upper bound 0.931). No significant difference was found between scores obtained by the traditional and the mobile pole versions.

Conclusion: Taking into account a relatively small sample, this study suggests that the mobile pole version is a reliable modification of the FRT. Its portability may make it useful to therapists in settings where a ruler fixed to a wall is unavailable or inconvenient.

Journal Title

Journal of Acute Care Physical Therapy





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First Department

Physical Therapy