Assessing proprioception: a review of possibilities
The following systematic review searched the literature to identify clinical tools used to measure proprioception. A wide array of tools were identified, however, most were not clinically viable, or alternatively vulnerable to various confounders. Furthermore, it appears current clinical tools are not up to date in incorporating our present understandings regarding the physiology of proprioception.
Proprioception is a vital aspect of motor control, and when compromised can have a marked impact on function in diverse clinical populations. The following systematic review aimed to identify clinically related tools to measure proprioceptive acuity, to classify the construct(s) underpinning the tools, and to report on the clinimetric properties of the tools.
The authors identified 32 different tools or methods utilised to quantify proprioception. There was a wide variation in methods used, joints assessed, and populations sampled. The most popular construct was active or passive joint position detection, followed by passive motion detection and motion direction discrimination. The clinimetric properties were mostly poor. The minor exception was the Rivermead Assessment of Somatosensory Perception (RASP), which was generally considered valid and reliable.
The take-home message from the review is that current understandings of proprioception from the research literature need to be applied in clinical practice to further implement evidence-based assessment and therefore rehabilitation.