Methods: Seven springs of varying stiffness were each indented 10 times by a variable rate force/displacement (VRFD) device. Indentations were performed at a rate of 0.5 mm/s to a maximal displacement of 4 mm. The stiffness coefficients for a middle portion of the resulting force-displacement graph and the terminal instantaneous stiffness (stiffness at end displacement) were calculated. The intraclass correlation and confidence interval were calculated for these stiffness measurements to assess device reliability.
Results: Repeated spring stiffness measures yielded an intraclass correlation coefficient value of 1.0. The mean stiffness values had narrow 95% confidence intervals ranging from 0.01 N/mm to 0.06 N/mm and small coefficients of variation.
Conclusion: This VRFD device provides highly reliable stiffness measurements in controlled conditions. Although in vivo reliability remains to be established, the results of this study support the use of the VRFD device in future trials investigating the impact of various SMT parameters on spinal stiffness.
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