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Test-retest relative and absolute reliability of knee extensor strength measures and minimal detectable change


BACKGROUND: Few studies have assessed the test-retest reliability of the isokinetic strength at 90°/s and the isometric parameters for knee extensors.

OBJECTIVES: To assess the reliability of isokinetic and isometric parameters of knee extensors, and to determine the smallest real difference between the test-retest measures.

METHODS: Knee extensor strength was measured twice, 4 to 5 days apart, using a Biodex dynamometer in forty subjects (12 men, 28 women). The protocols consisted of 5 concentric contractions at 90°/s and 5 isometric contractions.

RESULTS: For women, test-retest reliability was very high for isometric and isokinetic peak-torque (ICC[TeX:] _{c,1}> 0.9), moderate for work (ICC[TeX:] _{c,1}=0.82) and questionable for angle of peak torque (Angle-PT), mean Angle-PT and rate of torque development (RTD[TeX:] _{0-100 ms} (ICC < 0.67). The measurement errors were small for all variables, the SEM% ranged between 3.1% to 7.4%, and SRD% from 8.6% to 19.9%, except for RTD[TeX:] _{0-100 ms} that was the most variable (SEM% =16.4%; SRD=47.5%). No differences were found in Angle-PT and RTD[TeX:] _{0-100 ms} with regard to sex.

CONCLUSIONS: The isokinetic values obtained at 90°/s and isometric peak-torque for knee extensors are highly repeatable with a standardized test protocol and the SRD values can be used to detect real changes. Alternative strategies of analysis should be developed to improve reliability of Angle-PT and RTD[TeX:] _{0-100 ms}. Angle-PT and RTD[TeX:] _{0-100 ms} do not appear affected by gender.