This article provides a comprehensive review of studies that investigated ankle assessment techniques to better understand those that can be used in the real-time monitoring of rehabilitation progress for implementation in conjunction with robot-assisted therapy. Seventy-six publications published between January 1980 and August 2013 were selected based on eight databases. They were divided into two main categories (16 qualitative and 60 quantitative studies): 13 goniometer studies, 18 dynamometer studies, and 29 studies about innovative techniques. A total of 465 subjects participated in the 29 quantitative studies of innovative measurement techniques that may potentially be integrated in a real-time monitoring device, of which 19 studies included less than 10 participants. Results show that qualitative ankle assessment methods are not suitable for real-time monitoring in robot-assisted therapy, though they are reliable for certain patients, while the quantitative methods show great potential. The majority of quantitative techniques are reliable in measuring ankle kinematics and kinetics but are usually available only for use in the sagittal plane. Limited studies determine kinematics and kinetics in all three planes (sagittal, transverse, and frontal) where motions of the ankle joint and the subtalar joint actually occur.
Keywords: ankle measurement; ankle stiffness; clinical effectiveness; disability assessment; qualitative assessment; quantitative assessment; range of motion; rehabilitation device; reliability; robot-assisted therapy.