Pro-Health Blog
By Clara | 12 August 2022 | 0 Comments

Types of Goniometer and Joint Movements

Range of motion is a measurement of motion around a specific joint or body part. To measure a range of motion, doctors, osteopaths, physical therapists, or other health professionals most often use a goniometer, an instrument that measures the angle of motion in a joint. Surely different types of goniometers have different features and purposes. 

Types of Goniometer

1. Universal Goniometer

Comes with a short or long arm. The short arm goniometer is used for smaller joints like the wrist, elbow, or ankle. The long arm goniometer is ideal for joints with long levers like the shoulder, knee, and hip joints. 

Common universal goniometers: finger goniometer, wrist goniometer, hand goniometer, ankle goniometer, spinal universal goniometer, etc.

2. Arthrodial Goniometer/Protractor

Ideal for measuring cervical rotation, anteroposterior flexion, and lateral flexion of the cervical spine.

3. Twin Axis Electrogoniometer 

Electrical goniometers have higher inter-rater and intra-rater reliability than universal goniometers, but are challenging to apply in the clinical assessment of patients and are therefore more commonly used for research purposes.

4. Gravity Goniometer

One arm has a weighted pointer that remains vertical under the influence of gravity.

5. Software/Smartphone-based Goniometer

A smartphone as a digital goniometer offers several advantages, such as usability, ease of measurement, app-based measurement tracking, and one-handed use. These apps use the accelerometer in the phone to calculate joint angles.

About how to use it, please see more in How to Use Goniometer

Types of Joint Movements

  • Flexion: approaching movement of the bones that form a joint.
  • Extension: movement of separation of the bones that form the joint.

  • Pronation: with the elbow flexed: the inward turning of the elbow, due to a movement of internal rotation (palm down).
  • Supination: with the elbow in flexion: outward turning of the elbow, due to an external rotation movement (palm up).

  • Abduction: movement away from the center line of the body.
  • Adduction: movement towards the center line of the body.

Applications of Goniometer:

The goniometer is used in the following:

  • There is dysfunction related to muscles, tendons, or joints.
  • Build a diagnosis
  • Set treatment goals
  • Assessing progress or lack of progress
  • Modify treatment based on progress
  • Make orthoses
  • Measurements for Research Purposes

But don't use it in the following situations:

  • Joint dislocation
  • Unhealed fracture
  • If exercise disrupts the healing process after surgery
  • Areas of osteoporosis or fragile bones, as forced measurement may 
  • lead to iatrogenic damage
  • Possible destruction of soft tissue immediately after injury

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