• Piotr Solowiej

Stop guessing...

...and start assessing - as objectively as possible.

Got a new toy for the office last week, and we're super excited about it:

This, my friends, is a force gauge. It has both compression and tension sensors for a variety of sets ups, and allows us to measure exactly how much force is being exerted during a particular movement.

Without a gauge, strength (or more accurately muscle performance) gets assessed through Manual Muscle Testing. Standard procedures are used for manual muscle tests and are taught to all physical therapists. There is also a grading scale. However, beyond a certain point the scale becomes entirely subjective.

For example, if I (therapist) am significantly stronger or significantly weaker than you (patient) during a test, it will skew the results and more importantly the interpretation of what is occurring. Now, most therapists know this fact, adjust their decision making accordingly, and still get good outcomes. But without an objective number there is always going to be an element of guess work involved.

The body is complex enough, I prefer not to guess.

So while the positions we use to test muscle performance with a force gauge are the same as manual muscle testing, now we get a digital read out of the output. Not only are major differences obvious with a digital readout, it is also not as abstract as me saying one side is weaker than the other when I'm just using my hands because I can show you the numbers.

Now a more thorough analysis would also require the notation of lever arms to calculate the torque produced. As you may predict this involves a bit of math and physics so I'll spare you the mechanics lecture for a separate post. If you're interested, I will link it here once I am finished with it.

Thanks for reading.

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