Between-day reliability of centre of pressure measures for balance assessment in hemiplegic stroke patients

David Gasq, Marc Labrunée, David Amarantini, Philippe Dupui, Richard Montoya, Philippe Marque
Journal of Neuroengineering and Rehabilitation 2014, 11: 39

BACKGROUND: Stroke patients have impaired postural balance that increases the risk of falls and impairs their mobility. Assessment of postural balance is commonly carried out by recording centre of pressure (CoP) displacements, but the lack of data concerning reliability of these measures compromises their interpretation. The purpose of this study was to investigate the between-day reliability of six CoP-based variables, in order to provide i) reliability data for monitoring postural sway and weight-bearing asymmetry of stroke patients in clinical practice and ii) consistent assessment method of measurement error for applications in physical medicine and rehabilitation.

METHODS: Postural balance of 20 stroke patients was assessed in quiet standing on a force platform, in two sessions, 7 days apart. Six CoP-based variables were collected in eyes open and eyes closed conditions: postural sway was assessed with mean and standart deviation of CoP-velocity, CoP-velocity along the mediolateral and anteroposterior axes, and confidence ellipse area (CE(AREA)); weight-bearing asymmetry was assessed with mean CoP position along the mediolateral axis (CoP(ML)). The intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) was used to determine the level of agreement between test-retest. Small real difference (SRD), corresponding to the smallest change that indicates a real improvement for a single individual, was used to determine the extent of measurement error.

RESULTS: ICCs were satisfactory (>0.9) for all CoP-based variables, except for CE(AREA) in eyes open condition and CoP(ML) (<0.8). The SRDs (eyes open/closed conditions) were: 6.1/9.5 mm.s(-1) for mean velocity; 12.3/12.2 mm.s(-1) for standard deviation of CoP-velocity; 3.6/5.5 mm.s(-1) and 4.9/7.3 mm.s(-1) for CoP-velocity in mediolateral and anteroposterior axes, respectively; 17.4/21.4 mm for CoP(ML). Because CE(AREA) showed heteroscedasticity of measurement error distribution, SRD (eyes open/closed conditions) was expressed as a percentage (121/75%) and a ratio (3.68/2.16) obtained after log-antilog procedure.

CONCLUSIONS: In clinical practice, the CoP-based velocity variables should be prefer to CE(AREA) to assess and monitor postural sway over time in hemiplegic stroke patients. The poor reliability of CoP(ML) compromises its use to assess weight-bearing asymmetry. The procedure we used could be applied in reliability studies concerning other CoP-based variables or other biological variables in the field of physical medicine and rehabilitation.

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