The purpose of this paper was to review the literature regarding the measurement properties of various angles used for postural assessment of the head, neck, shoulder, and thorax and to discuss the utility of these measures.Methods:
The inclusion criteria for this literature review were use of postural angles to assess posture, measurement of upper body posture, and research studies conducted in last 3 decades that had free full-text available online entirely in the English language. The exclusion criteria were review articles; studies involving subjects having obesity, visual problems, any history of surgery, respiratory, cardiovascular, neurologic, or congenital pathology or disease; and research studies in which postural angles were measured with respect to vertical only. The following databases were searched: PubMed Central, PubMed, ResearchGate, Springer Link, ScienceDirect, Google Scholar and Scielo through February 20, 2016.Results:
A total of 21 studies that were found to be best suited to explain the craniovertebral (CV) angle, sagittal head tilt, sagittal shoulder-C7 angle, coronal head tilt, coronal shoulder angle, and thoracic kyphosis angle were included in this review. Craniovertebral angle, sagittal head tilt, sagittal shoulder-C7 angle, coronal head tilt, and coronal shoulder angle possess moderate to high intrarater reliability. Craniovertebral angle, sagittal head tilt, sagittal shoulder-C7 angle and thoracic kyphosis angle possess high interrater reliability (except for sagittal head tilt when measured using the goniometer). Craniovertebral angle, sagittal head tilt, and sagittal shoulder-C7 angle have been proved to be valid measures of posture when compared with similar angles measured on radiographs. None of the studies reported intrarater reliability of thoracic kyphosis angle, interrater reliability of coronal head tilt and coronal shoulder angle, and validity of coronal angles and thoracic kyphosis angle.Conclusions:
We found several reliable methods to measure the postures of the head, neck, shoulder, and thoracic regions by measuring the CV angle, sagittal head tilt, sagittal shoulder-C7 angle, and thoracic kyphosis angle, respectively. Standardization of methods for angular measurement is recommended so that there is uniformity among studies regarding camera height, participant-camera distance, and type of software to generate normative data for postural angles.