Validity and reliability of 3D marker based scapular motion analysis: a systematic review

J Biomech. 2014 Jul 18;47(10):2219-30. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2014.04.028. Epub 2014 May 1.


Methods based on cutaneous markers are the most popular for the recording of three dimensional scapular motion analysis. Numerous methods have been evaluated, each showing different levels of accuracy and reliability. The aim of this review was to report the metrological properties of 3D scapular kinematic measurements using cutaneous markers and to make recommendations based on metrological evidence. A database search was conducted using relevant keywords and inclusion/exclusion criteria in 5 databases. 19 articles were included and assessed using a quality score. Concurrent validity and reliability were analyzed for each method. Six different methods are reported in the literature, each based on different marker locations and post collection computations. The acromion marker cluster (AMC) method coupled with a calibration of the scapula with the arm at rest is the most studied method. Below 90-100° of humeral elevation, this method is accurate to about 5° during arm flexion and 7° during arm abduction compared to palpation (average of the 3 scapular rotation errors). Good to excellent within-session reliability and moderate to excellent between-session reliability have been reported. The AMC method can be improved using different or multiple calibrations. Other methods using different marker locations or more markers on the scapula blade have been described but are less accurate than AMC methods. Based on current metrological evidence we would recommend (1) the use of an AMC located at the junction of the scapular spine and the acromion, (2) the use of a single calibration at rest if the task does not reach 90° of humeral elevation, (3) the use of a second calibration (at 90° or 120° of humeral elevation), or multiple calibrations above 90° of humeral elevation.

Keywords: Accuracy; Reliability; Scapular kinematics; Shoulder; Validity.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arm / physiology
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Calibration
  • Computer Simulation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Humerus / physiology*
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods*
  • Male
  • Models, Biological
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Rotation
  • Scapula / physiology*
  • Shoulder / physiology*
  • Shoulder Joint / physiology
  • Software