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  • Writer's pictureVeteran Disability (VADA)

Proper Use of Goniometer During VA Exam

Updated: 2 days ago

Observation and Documentation: Veterans should pay close attention during their examination to ensure the goniometer is being used correctly. They should note if the examiner positions the

The goniometer is an essential tool for measuring the range of motion (ROM) for various joints, including the ankle, knee, hip, shoulder, wrist, elbow, and spine. This device ensures accuracy in documenting the degree of movement, which is critical for evaluating the severity of a veteran's musculoskeletal conditions. Proper use of a goniometer involves aligning the stationary arm of the device with the joint's inactive part and the movable arm with the limb or body part being measured. The center of the goniometer is positioned at the joint's rotation axis. The examiner must ensure the veteran is in a standardized position and that the movement is performed slowly to avoid errors. Each measurement should be repeated to confirm accuracy and record the readings meticulously.


Correct use of a goniometer is crucial because it directly impacts the veteran's disability rating. Inaccurate measurements can lead to underestimating the severity of a condition, resulting in a lower disability rating and reduced benefits. It's vital for VA examiners to use the goniometer correctly to avoid these discrepancies. During the exam, veterans might be asked to sign a form indicating the goniometer was used, but this does not guarantee its proper use. Veterans should observe and ensure the device is being used correctly and accurately to measure their ROM. If an examiner fails to use a goniometer properly or at all, veterans should document this discrepancy and report it to their VSO or file a complaint with the VA.


Importance of Caution and Self-Advocacy in VA Examinations

Observation and Documentation
When attending a VA examination, it is crucial for veterans to be vigilant and proactive about their own advocacy. One key aspect is ensuring that proper procedures are followed during physical examinations, particularly when measuring range of motion with a goniometer. The goniometer is a device used to measure the angle of joint movements accurately. Veterans should pay close attention to ensure that the examiner uses the goniometer correctly, positions it accurately, follows the standard procedures, and records the readings meticulously.

If an examiner asks you to sign a document stating that a goniometer was used, do not sign it unless you have observed the examiner actually using the device. Your signature on this document is a confirmation that the procedure was conducted correctly, and it can significantly impact the evaluation of your disability claim. By ensuring the examiner uses the goniometer properly, you help maintain the integrity of the examination process and ensure that your medical evaluation is accurate and fair.

Why Caution is Needed
Caution is necessary because any inaccuracies or procedural errors during the examination can lead to an incorrect assessment of your condition, potentially affecting your benefits. An improperly conducted exam may fail to capture the true extent of your disability, which can result in a lower disability rating or denial of benefits. By being observant, you help safeguard against these errors and ensure that your examination reflects your actual medical condition.

Self-Advocacy Tips

  • Be Informed: Understand the examination process and what to expect. Knowing how a goniometer is used and the correct procedures can help you identify any deviations.

  • Ask Questions: If you are unsure whether the examiner is using the goniometer correctly, do not hesitate to ask questions. It's your right to understand how your examination is being conducted.

  • Document Your Observations: Keep a detailed record of your examination. Note if the examiner uses the goniometer, how it is positioned, and how the readings are taken. This documentation can be useful if you need to dispute the examination results later.

  • Do Not Sign Prematurely: Only sign documents confirming the use of specific procedures if you have witnessed them being carried out correctly.

The VA Disability Advocate's Advice:

A disability advocate would advise veterans to thoroughly understand their rights and the VA examination process, including the specific procedures and tools used, such as the goniometer for measuring joint angles. During the examination, veterans should be observant, paying close attention to how the examiner conducts the test and whether they use the goniometer correctly. It's crucial not to sign any documents confirming the use of such devices unless they have been properly used and observed by the veteran. Asking questions and clarifying any doubts during the examination ensures accuracy and transparency. Additionally, veterans should document every aspect of the examination, noting the procedures, observations about the examiner's techniques, and how readings were recorded, which can be vital if challenging the results. If any issues arise, seeking assistance from an accredited VA Disability Advocate can help navigate the complexities of the VA system, ensuring that the veteran's claim is accurately represented and supported. By following these steps, veterans can advocate for themselves effectively, ensuring a fair and accurate assessment of their condition.



Albert L. Thombs

Accredited VA DisabilityAdvocate

Phone: 702-992-4883

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