METHODS: The PAS system uses electronic sensors to record displacement and force while a human operator provides the force of indentation. A test-retest design was used with measures repeated by the same operator within 5 minutes. Posterior-to-anterior loads were applied to each lumbar spinous process of patients lying prone on a hard flat bench. Force and displacement were recorded and used to calculate PAS.
RESULTS: The subjects consisted of 22 males and 14 females; average age was 49.1 years (SD, 14.2). All subjects had low back pain of at least 4 weeks duration, with mean Roland-Morris scores of 7.6 (SD, 3.3). Spinal stiffness ranged from 4 to 26 N/mm (average, 11.2; SD, 3.5). Stiffness in the first and second tests varied on the average by 0.31 N/mm (P = .03). Standard error of the measurement was 1.62 N/mm. The single measures intraclass correlation coefficient (3,1) was 0.790 (95% confidence interval, 0.739-0.832).
CONCLUSIONS: The equipment and method produced repeatable results over the short-term. The system may be sensitive enough to detect changes in spinal stiffness that occur with care.
First author: Edward F. Owens Jr., MS, DC
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