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Psychometric properties of functional postural control tests in children: A systematic review.

BACKGROUND: Postural control deficits are one of the most common impairments treated in pediatric physiotherapeutic practice. Adequate evaluation of these deficits is imperative to identify postural control deficits, plan treatment and assess efficacy. Currently, there is no gold standard evaluation for postural control deficits. However, the number of studies investigating the psychometric properties of functional pediatric postural control tests has increased significantly.

OBJECTIVE: To facilitate the selection of an appropriate pediatric functional postural control test in research and clinical practice.

METHODS: Systematic review following the PRISMA guidelines. PubMed, Web of Science and Scopus were systematically searched (last update: June 2022; PROSPERO: CRD42021246995). Studies were selected using the PICOs-method (pediatric populations (P), functional assessment tools for postural control (I) and psychometric properties (O). The risk of bias was rated with the COSMIN checklist and the level of evidence was determined with GRADE. For each test, the postural control systems were mapped, and the psychometric properties were extracted.

RESULTS: Seventy studies investigating 26 different postural control tests were included. Most children were healthy or had cerebral palsy. Overall, the evidence for all measurement properties was low to very low. Most tests (95%) showed good reliability (ICC>0.70), but inconsistent validity results. Structural validity, internal consistency and responsiveness were only available for 3 tests. Only the Kids-BESTest and FAB covered all postural control systems.

CONCLUSION: Currently, 2 functional tests encompass the entire construct of postural control. Although reliability is overall good, validity results depend on task, age and pathology. Future research should focus on test batteries and should particularly explore structural validity and responsiveness in different populations with methodologically strong study designs.

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