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Active Cervical and Lumbar Range of Motion During Performance of Activities of Daily Living in Healthy Young Adults

Cobian, Daniel G. DPT*; Daehn, Nicole S. DPT; Anderson, Paul A. MD†,‡; Heiderscheit, Bryan C. PT, PhD†,‡

doi: 10.1097/BRS.0b013e3182a2119c
Cervical Spine

Study Design. Observational cohort design.

Objective. The purpose of this investigation was to characterize the maximum, cumulative, and average cervical and lumbar spine motion required to perform common activities of daily living (ADLs).

Summary of Background Data. Previous studies have measured the maximum cervical and lumbar excursions during ADLs, but none have used a motion capture system to allow for noninvasive continuous motion monitoring.

Methods. Ten healthy, young adults performed 16 ADLs while 3-dimensional kinematics were recorded. Cervical and lumbar rigid body kinematic models were created and scaled to each subject to calculate angular motion. Cervical and lumbar mean active range of motion (ROM) and total excursion for flexion-extension, lateral bending, and axial rotation were calculated.

Results. The majority of activities used 20% to 40% of maximum available cervical ROM and 40% to 60% of maximum available lumbar ROM. Activities that required concurrent cervical and lumbar spine motion, such as washing in the shower, picking an object up from the floor, and clearing the table, had the greatest motion totals. These activities typically required rates of excursion greater than 10° per second.

Conclusion. This is the first investigation to report cumulative spine motion totals associated with the performance of common ADLs. These results provide a preliminary cervical and lumbar spine motion profile in healthy, young adults. The relationship between traditional end ROM measurements and function is not well defined. In agreement with previous research, this investigation concludes that only a small percentage of available ROM is used in performing most activities. Thus, determining the total wear related to common activities may help us to better understand and address spine-related impairments.

Level of Evidence: N/A

In Brief

Ten healthy young adults performed 16 activities of daily living while 3-dimensional kinematics were recorded by a motion capture system. This noninvasive, continuous monitoring design facilitated the calculation of cumulative cervical and lumbar spine motion totals, which provide a more complete profile of spine motion in asymptomatic subjects.

Author Information

*Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA; and Departments of

Orthopedics and Rehabilitation and

Biomedical Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Daniel G. Cobian, DPT, The University of Iowa, Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science, 1-152 Medical Education Building, Iowa City, IA 52242-1009; E-mail:

Acknowledgment date: October 27, 2011. First revision date: May 16, 2013. Acceptance date: June 21, 2013.

The manuscript submitted does not contain information about medical device(s)/drug(s).

Medtronic, Inc. grant funds were received to support this work.

Relevant financial activities outside the submitted work: fee for participation in review activities, consultancy, royalties, and stock/stock options.

© 2013 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins