Range of motion or (ROM), as used in the biomedical and weightlifting communities, is the measurement of the achievable distance between the flexed position and the extended position of a particular joint or muscle group. The act of attempting to increase this distance through therapeutic exercises (range of motion therapy—stretching from flexion to extension for physiological gain) is also sometimes called range of motion.
A person who uses a wheelchair may improve the range of motion in their spine, hips, knees and ankles by using a standing frame, if possible. It is necessary that the gain in joint range be accompanied by the gain in function of the muscles which control that particular range of motion.
Measuring range of motion As measurement results will vary by the degree of resistance, two levels of range of motion results are recorded in most cases. Passive range of motion, where another person, such as a caregiver or therapist, moves the joint. Active (or manual) range of motion, where the individual moves the joint themselves. Free active movements - the only resistance is the weight of the limb or body and the force of gravity that it fights. Free active movements are generally performed to increase and retain strength and flexibility. Resisted active movements - for resistance, weights are added to the limb, a physician, therapist or another person applies pressure, or a stretch band is used. Resisted active movement exercises are used to increase strength and endurance.
A goniometer is used to measure ROM. The segments of a goniometer include the stationary arm, protractor, fulcrum and movement arm.