Effective Range of Motion Equipment Used in Physical Therapy


This article speaks about the most effective range of motion equipment used in physical therapy to measure joint motion. These devices can be used to calculate measurements for any joint in the body.

What is Range of Motion?

Range of motion can be described as the distance and direction that a joint can move between the flexed  and extended position. In other words, it is the measurement of the amount of movement for a particular joint. Physical therapists measure joint motion before, during and upon completion of treatment.

There are basically two types of motion to be measured (1) Passive Range of motion is when the physical therapist moves the joint or it is performed by equipment (Continuous Passive Motion Devices) and (2) Active Range of Motion when the patient performs joint motion without any assistance.

Based on these measurements, physical therapists determine a plan for treatment. The rehabilitation goals from these measurements are to improve flexibility, strength and motion in joints. Take a look at the most common range of motion equipment used in physical therapy offices:


The inclinometer is used to measure the tilt or slope of a joint. This small device derives accurate information about your body positioning, level and stability in different planes of motion. To use an inclinometer the physical therapist places the device on the particular joint and holds it on the patient. The patient starts movement from the standard position. inclinometerThe therapist zeroes out the inclinometer and has the patient move the joint. The final reading is an accurate range of motion.

This device is commonly used when determining motion of the upper and lower spines where therapists make use of two interconnected inclinometers.The inclinometer considered range of motion equipment is used daily by physical therapists and chiropractors.


gonoAnother common used range of motion equipment is the goniometer. This devise has a scale in its center that reads from 0-360 degrees. Attached to the center scale are two rulers that also can move to a full 360 degrees. The center scale is lined up on the joint axis, the patient then moves the joint to the position directed by the therapist. The physical therapist then moves the rulers to match the joint motion and that is what gets recorded.

Since the therapist cannot hold the goniometer directly against the joint and shafts of bones these measurements are only good estimates. Goniometers show how much a patients joint has been affected by injury or surgery.

Posture Grid

gridA simply piece of range of motion equipment to measure and record posture is the posture grid. This is an essential tool to measure, analyze and correct patient body alignment. From these measurements chiropractors and physical therapists can determine a program to improve the muscular imbalance resulting in poor posture.


Finding out exactly how a patients range of motion is limited can help medical professionals determine which course of action to take. Range of motion equipment guides the professional to track healing progress and help restore full range of motion.