Reliability and validity of bilateral thigh and foot accelerometry measures of walking in healthy and hemiparetic subjects

Kaveh Saremi, Jon Marehbian, Xiaohong Yan, Jean-Philippe Regnaux, Robert Elashoff, Bernard Bussel, Bruce H Dobkin
Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair 2006, 20 (2): 297-305

OBJECTIVE: Measures of walking ability in large clinical trials are usually limited to a timed short-distance walk and the distance walked in a fixed time. A new integrated system of 5 accelerometers was tested for reliability and compared to a footswitch system to determine if the accelerometers offered a practical option for the acquisition of spatiotemporal gait parameters.

METHODS: Leg accelerations and decelerations were defined in relation to simultaneous kinematic and electromyographic data acquired from a healthy subject. Eight healthy adults and 6 independent ambulators with hemiparetic stroke walked 15 m at 2 different speeds wearing both the accelerometers and footswitches. Twelve healthy subjects walked at 5 different speeds repeated 3 times on each of 2 days wearing the accelerometers. Walking speed, cadence, stride length, and single- and double-limb support, swing, and stance times were calculated.

RESULTS: No differences (t test, P > 0.2) were found between footswitch and accelerometer variables when comparing all left or right legs in healthy subjects and all paretic or unaffected legs in stroke subjects. A 2-way nested ANOVA model (speed, left and right legs, trial, and session) with the accelerometers at walking speeds from 0.5 to 1.8 m/s revealed high reproducibility of all measures.

CONCLUSIONS: The accelerometry system provided reliable and valid spatiotemporal measures of gait for the upper range of speeds likely to be targeted for rehabilitation interventions in ambulatory subjects.

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