Aims: The pilot study aimed to ascertain the intraexaminer reliability of measures of eye and head sensorimotor control, and the feasibility of implementing these. A further aim was to compare performance
in two different tests proposed as measures of proprioception and kinaesthesia, in order to examine their construct validity.
Study design: An intra-examiner, test/re-test design was used.
Methods: The performance of fourteen asymptomatic subjects was measured in a range of tasks, including two tests of proprioceptive or kinaesthetic function. A polhemus Fastrak electromagnetic tracking system was used to record head position
and motion in a head repositioning task and in a task where subjects moved their head in order to track a moving visual target. All measures were repeated twice on day 1 and once on day 5—7, enabling within day and between day performance to be compared.
Results: Substantial to high levels of reliability (intraclass correlation (ICC) 2, k values 0.62—0.919) were indicated for all proprioception/kinaesthesia tasks. Some learning effect across the three test occasions was indicated for individual subjects in some tasks, although for the group ANOVA only reached ignificance in head repositioning following an extension movement (F = 5.37, P = 0.01). Correlation between individual subjects’ performance in the head repositioning and head tracking tasks was low (Pearson’s r = 0.011—0.458).
Conclusions: Good reliability of the outcome measures was shown; however, the possibility of some learning effect suggested by the ANOVA highlights the importance of considering this alongside the ICC. Minor odifications to the training and test schedule for head repositioning and head tracking tasks will be made for subsequent studies using neck pain patients. The feasibility of using these outcome measures was established. The low level of correlation of performance in the head repositioning and
head tracking tasks raises questions over the validity of either or both tsks as measures of underlying proprioceptive function and further investigation is needed. However, this does not invalidate their use as combined measures of sensorimotor control of the head and neck. Two tests measuring different aspects may be useful in investigating differences
between sub-categories of neck pain patient.
This abstract is reproduced with the permission of the publisher.