Postural assessment, Part Two: Deviation for sense of and actual alignment

PA Hough, M Nel


Introduction: Accurate sensing of the body position in space is important for safe and mechanically effective interaction with the
environment. Clinical evidence however suggests that a client’s sense of postural alignment differs from their actual alignment, which
may influence the accuracy of postural repositioning during participation in activities of daily life.
Objectives: The aim of this quantitative descriptive study was to investigate the difference between sense and actual postural
alignment during sitting and standing positions, with the anatomical landmarks as reference points for measurement from anterior and
lateral views.
Methods: Ten health care clinics in the Free State towns of Botshabelo and Thaba N’chu, were randomly selected and 95 patients
participated in the study. Measurements consisted of (a) a biographical questionnaire, (b) assessment of actual postural alignment, and
(c) assessment of sensed postural alignment. Assessment of actual postural alignment was done by using the Photographic Method of
Postural Assessment (P-MPA), during which the actual (real) distance on photos was established by calculating the ratio of measured/
real distance x distance from plumb line for each photo. A clinical significant difference from the reference point as measured on the
photo was set at 10mm. The sense and actual deviation, for sitting and standing were compared by means of 95% confidence intervals
for median differences.
Results: Results show statistical and clinically significant differences for sense and actual deviations from the plumb line for lateral
views for all anatomical landmarks, in both sitting and standing positions. With the exception of a clinical significant difference at the
nose landmark in anterior view, results show no other statistical or clinical significant differences for anterior sitting or standing.
Recommendations: The authors recommend that follow up studies investigate postural repositioning during motion and in addition
to speed and direction, also test the degree to which discrepancy between sense and actual values occurs.
Conclusion: Increased awareness by health care professionals and educators of the discrepancy between sensed and actual postural
alignment, in anterior and lateral views, may benefit the planning of intervention programmes aimed to enhance safe and meaningful
occupational performance

Keywords:  Postural alignment, sense of posture and actual posture

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ISSN 0038-2337 (print), ISSN 2310-3833 (online)

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