The Importance of Objective Assessments

Learn practical tips for optimizing your clinic setup and guiding patients towards their rehab goals with objective assessments.
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During rehabilitation, performance testing and tracking is vital to ensure patients reach their rehab goals in a safe and efficient manner. It is usually completed using two distinct methods – subjective and objective analysis.

Objective Analysis

Objective analysis traditionally involves using equipment such as 3D motion capture, force plates, laser-based and EMG systems. Such equipment can accurately estimate key performance indicators such as joint kinetics, kinematics and muscle activity. They provide objective data that is consistent and reliable which allows for informed decision-making and the ability to demonstrate progress to the patient. However, access to this equipment is often limited to elite athletes and researchers (1). Even when available, the equipment is very expensive in terms of initial outlay & general upkeep. Furthermore, it is time consuming to set up correctly and interpret the data obtained.

Examples of traditional objective performance analysis tools including force plates, linear positional transducers and laser based systems.

Subjective Analysis

Subjective analysis primarily involves visual evaluation of an athlete. It is quick, inexpensive, and requires minimal equipment. However, evaluating performance in this manner often involves the use of ambiguous grading criteria and practitioner intuition, leaving it prone to bias. This is compounded by the difficulty of having to simultaneously assess numerous performance components. Furthermore, it is difficult to demonstrate improvements to clients when assessing performance in a subjective manner due to the lack of hard data points. 

But, perhaps the most challenging aspect of subjective analysis is ensuring consistency of measurement with research indicating varying levels of agreement at an inter & intra rater level. This agreement is influenced by factors such as clinician experience as well as the complexity of the screening assessment itself. This means an athlete’s performance levels and/or risk of injury may be incorrectly stratified (i.e. high risk or low risk) depending on when they were assessed, and the practitioner involved. It can also lead to the potential for different practitioners to change athlete management based on interpretation, compromising continuity of care.

Subjective visual evaluation of an individual's movement kinematics during a single leg squat

How Output Can Aid Objective Assessments

Inertial Measurement Units can acquire tri-planar inertial acceleration and rate of angular rotation. With appropriate signal processing they are capable of providing data that is objective, accurate and reliable in a variety of performance tasks (2,3). Their size means that devices that incorporate them, such as the Output system, are generally small and unobtrusive meaning they can be used outside of laboratories and in gym settings.

For these reasons, IMUs have become increasingly common in sports and rehab settings to assess performance. These devices can be augmented with desktop tools that allow athletes and patients to track their progress and ensure they reach goals in a safe and effective manner. 

Output Sensor (IMU)

Clinic Set-Up: Get The Most Output From Your Processes

  • Set up an always-on Output station: At the start of each day open the Capture app, pair up your sensor unit and have it to hand for patients coming through the doors. 
  • Favourite your most common assessments: Straight-leg raise? Unilateral countermovement jump? Favourite your most common assessments in the Capture app so they are just one click away when working with your clients.
  • Create return-to-performance pathways: Stability, mobility, strength, power, reactive speed, plyometrics and sprint analysis. For each common injury you rehab, create a pathway of objective measurements to help optimise the journey.
  • Create client report templates: Once you have your rehab pathways set-up, use the Hub to create PDF templates to send your patients home with based on your assessments. These can be generated in seconds and are a great way to create client buy-in to the return to performance process.

Download the full Sports Physio & Rehab Guide here!

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