Dr. Evan Johnson, Physical Therapist at the Spine Center recently attended the 2011 annual meeting of the North American Spine Society.
There he got to help test participants’ balance and grip strength. The tests were part of an interactive display developed by the NASS Exercise Committee to demonstrate how functional tests like these can be used to objectively assess patients with back and neck pain.
Pain can be highly subjective and clinicians strive to use objective measures in order to understand how to best treat their patients. The results can also be used as bench marks to show improvement. As decreased balance has been associated with chronic low back pain and decreased grip strength has been associated with chronic neck pain, these are two useful tests.
Balance was tested by timing participants for up to 30 seconds as they stood on one foot with their arms crossed over their chest. Participants were graded based on how many seconds they could remain on one foot. If they could stand the whole 30 seconds they were then asked to repeat the test with their eyes closed.
Grip strength was tested using a hand held dynomometer. This is a portable hand-held device that can measure strength in Newtons, pounds, or kilograms. The test is performed with the elbow bent to 90 degrees and held close to the body. The results can then be compared to established norms.
Evan says, “People learned a little something new and had a lot of fun trying to out do each other. We even gave out prizes.”
Learn more about the 2011 annual meeting of the North American Spine Society.