Reliability of Physical Therapists in Performing Ankle-Brachial Index Measurements

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Abstract

Purpose:

Reliability of ankle-brachial index (ABI) testing has been assessed in some health care providers, but there is conflicting information on the reliability of physical therapists (PTs). The purpose of this study was to determine the reliability of practicing PTs in performing ABI measurements in an older adult population.

Methods:

Two practicing PTs measured systolic blood pressure in all 4 extremities of 23 subjects (mean age 61.9 yr) using Doppler ultrasound. The measurements were repeated in all subjects and an ABI was calculated for each extremity using the conventional and an alternate method.

Results:

Reliability was assessed with the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC). The ICC for interrater reliability when using the conventional method for calculating ABI was 0.649 (95% CI [443, 789]). The ICC for intrarater reliability was 0.710 (95% CI [0.530, 0.828]) for rater 1 and 0.586 (95% CI [0.359, 0.748]) for rater 2. The ICCs were generally higher when the alternate method was used to calculate ABI.

Conclusions:

Interrater reliability of PTs was good, and intrarater reliability was fair to excellent when calculating ABI by the conventional and alternate methods. Physical therapists who follow recommended procedures can obtain reliable ABI measurements.

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