The modified Thomas test is not a valid measure of hip extension unless pelvic tilt is controlled

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The modified Thomas test was developed to assess the presence of hip flexion contracture and to measure hip extensibility. Despite its widespread use, to the authors’ knowledge, its criterion reference

The modified Thomas test was developed to assess the presence of hip flexion contracture and to measure hip extensibility. Despite its widespread use, to the authors’ knowledge, its criterion reference validity has not yet been investigated. The purpose of this study was to assess the criterion reference validity of the modified Thomas test for measuring peak hip extension angle and hip extension deficits, as defined by the hip not being able to extend to 0º, or neutral. Twenty-nine healthy college students (age = 22.00 ± 3.80 years; height = 1.71 ± 0.09 m; body mass = 70.00 ± 15.60 kg) were recruited for this study. Bland–Altman plots revealed poor validity for the modified Thomas test’s ability to measure hip extension, which could not be explained by differences in hip flexion ability alone. The modified Thomas test displayed a sensitivity of 31.82% (95% CI [13.86–54.87]) and a specificity of 57.14% (95% CI [18.41–90.10]) for testing hip extension deficits. It appears, however, that by controlling pelvic tilt, much of this variance can be accounted for (r = 0.98). When pelvic tilt is not controlled, the modified Thomas test displays poor criterion reference validity and, as per previous studies, poor reliability. However, when pelvic tilt is controlled, the modified Thomas test appears to be a valid test for evaluating peak hip extension angle.