Most studies of balance have been performed with subjects in the standing position. Measures that can be used to predict outcomes regarding the balance of no standing patients with Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI) are not available. Most studies of sitting balance have used instrumentation similar to that used for studies of standing balance. The Functional Reach Test (FRT) is highly reliable, fast and easy to use test to measure standing balance. Thus primary objective of study was to determine whether FRT could be modified for group of individuals with SCI to provide reliable measurements of sitting balance. A secondary objective was to determine whether modified FRT could measure differences in functional reach among different levels of SCI.
Methods: Thirty male subjects with SCI were divided into three groups based on injury type. Group 1, 2 and 3 consisted of subjects with C5-6 tetraplegia, T1-4 paraplegia, and T10-12 paraplegia respectively. Subjects sat on similar mat tables against the same backboard, set at 80 degrees. During two sessions, forward reach was measured with a yardstick.
Results: Intraclass correlation coefficients were high and varied from 0.90 to 0.97. Post hoc testing revealed that differences occurred between groups 1 and 3 and groups 2 and 3, but not between groups 1 and 2.
Conclusion: Test-retest reliability was high with modification of the FRT with a single rater. The measurements reflected differences among levels of lesion. The modified FRT appears to provide reliable measurements of sitting balance in no standing persons with spinal cord injuries.