Validity and reliability of smartphone magnetometer-based goniometer evaluation of shoulder abduction - A pilot study

Linda B. Johnson, Sean Sumner, Tina Duong, Posu Yan, Ruzena Bajcsy, R. Ted Abresch, Evan de Bie, Jay J. Han

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Background: Goniometers are commonly used by physical therapists to measure range-of-motion (ROM) in the musculoskeletal system. These measurements are used to assist in diagnosis and to help monitor treatment efficacy. With newly emerging technologies, smartphone-based applications are being explored for measuring joint angles and movement. Objective: This pilot study investigates the intra- and inter-rater reliability as well as concurrent validity of a newly-developed smartphone magnetometer-based goniometer (MG) application for measuring passive shoulder abduction in both sitting and supine positions, and compare against the traditional universal goniometer (UG). Design: This is a comparative study with repeated measurement design. Methods: Three physical therapists utilized both the smartphone MG and a traditional UG to measure various angles of passive shoulder abduction in a healthy subject, whose shoulder was positioned in eight different positions with pre-determined degree of abduction while seated or supine. Each therapist was blinded to the measured angles. Concordance correlation coefficients (CCCs), Bland-Altman plotting methods, and Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) were used for statistical analyses. Results: Both traditional UG and smartphone MG were reliable in repeated measures of standardized joint angle positions (average CCC > 0.997) with similar variability in both measurement tools (standard deviation (SD) ± 4°). Agreement between the UG and MG measurements was greater than 0.99 in all positions. Conclusion: Our results show that the smartphone MG has equivalent reliability compared to the traditional UG when measuring passive shoulder abduction ROM. With concordant measures and comparable reliability to the UG, the newly developed MG application shows potential as a useful tool to assess joint angles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)777-782
Number of pages6
JournalManual Therapy
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015


  • Goniometry
  • Reliability
  • Smartphone
  • Validity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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