Methods for assessment of trunk stabilization, a systematic review

E. Maaswinkel, M. Griffioen, Rsgm Perez, Jaap H. van Dieen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Trunk stabilization is achieved differently in patients with low back pain compared to healthy controls. Many methods exist to assess trunk stabilization but not all measure the contributions of intrinsic stiffness and reflexes simultaneously. This may pose a threat to the quality/validity of the study and might lead to misinterpretation of the results. The aim of this study was to provide a critical review of previously published methods for studying trunk stabilization in relation to low back pain (LBP). We primarily aimed to assess their construct validity to which end we defined a theoretical framework operationalized in a set of methodological criteria which would allow to identify the contributions of intrinsic stiffness and reflexes simultaneously. In addition, the clinimetric properties of the methods were evaluated. A total of 133 articles were included from which four main categories of methods were defined; upper limb (un) loading, moving platform, unloading and loading. Fifty of the 133 selected articles complied with all the criteria of the theoretical framework, but only four articles provided information about reliability and/or measurement error of methods to assess trunk stabilization with test-retest reliability ranging from poor (ICC 0) to moderate (ICC 0.72). When aiming to assess trunk stabilization with system identification, we propose a perturbation method where the trunk is studied in isolation, the perturbation is unpredictable, force controlled, directly applied to the upper body, completely known and results in small fluctuations around the working point. (C) 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-35
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Electromyography and Kinesiology
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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