Purpose The purpose of this review is to systematically explore and summarise the validity and reliability of telerehabilitation (TR)-based physiotherapy assessment for musculoskeletal disorders. Method A comprehensive systematic literature review was conducted using a number of electronic databases: PubMed, EMBASE, PsycINFO, Cochrane Library and CINAHL, published between January 2000 and May 2015. The studies examined the validity, inter- and intra-rater reliabilities of TR-based physiotherapy assessment for musculoskeletal conditions were included. Two independent reviewers used the Quality Appraisal Tool for studies of diagnostic Reliability (QAREL) and the Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies (QUADAS) tool to assess the methodological quality of reliability and validity studies respectively. Results A total of 898 hits were achieved, of which 11 articles based on inclusion criteria were reviewed. Nine studies explored the concurrent validity, inter- and intra-rater reliabilities, while two studies examined only the concurrent validity. Reviewed studies were moderate to good in methodological quality. The physiotherapy assessments such as pain, swelling, range of motion, muscle strength, balance, gait and functional assessment demonstrated good concurrent validity. However, the reported concurrent validity of lumbar spine posture, special orthopaedic tests, neurodynamic tests and scar assessments ranged from low to moderate. Conclusion TR-based physiotherapy assessment was technically feasible with overall good concurrent validity and excellent reliability, except for lumbar spine posture, orthopaedic special tests, neurodynamic testa and scar assessment.
Keywords: Telerehabilitation; assessment; musculoskeletal disorders; physiotherapy; reliability; validity.