Background

Ankle dorsiflexion motion and plantarflexor stiffness measurement offer clinical insight into the assessment and treatment of musculoskeletal and neurologic disorders. We aimed to determine reliability and concurrent validity of an ankle arthrometer in quantifying dorsiflexion motion and plantarflexor stiffness.

Methods

Ten healthy individuals were assessed for dorsiflexion motion and plantarflexor stiffness using an ankle arthrometer with a 6 degree-of-freedom kinematic linkage system and external strain gauge to apply dorsiflexion torque. Two investigators each performed five loads to the ankle at different combinations of loads (10 or 20 Nm), rates (2.5 or 5 Nm/sec), and knee angles (10° or 20°). Anteroposterior displacement and inversion-eversion rotation were also assessed with arthrometry, and functional dorsiflexion motion was assessed with the weightbearing lunge (WBL) test.

Results

Good-to-excellent intrarater reliability was observed for peak dorsiflexion (intraclass correlation coefficient [ICC][2,k] = 0.949–0.988) and plantarflexor stiffness (ICC[2,k] = 0.761–0.984). Interrater reliability was good to excellent for peak dorsiflexion (ICC[2,1] = 0.766–0.910) and poor to excellent for plantarflexor stiffness (ICC[2,1] = 0.275–0.914). Reliability was best for 20-Nm loads at 5 Nm/sec. Strong correlations were observed between peak dorsiflexion and anteroposterior displacement (r = 0.666; P = 0.035) and WBL distance (r = -0.681; P = 0.036).

Conclusions

Using an ankle arthrometer to assess peak dorsiflexion and plantarflexor stiffness seems reliable when performed to greater torques with faster speeds; and offers consistency with functional measures. Use of this readily available tool may benefit clinicians attempting to quantify equinus and dorsiflexion deficits in pathological populations.

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