Automatic classification of gait in children with early-onset ataxia or developmental coordination disorder and controls using inertial sensors

Andrea Mannini, Octavio Martinez-Manzanera, Tjitske F Lawerman, Diana Trojaniello, Ugo Della Croce, Deborah A Sival, Natasha M Maurits, Angelo Maria Sabatini
Gait & Posture 2017, 52: 287-292
Early-Onset Ataxia (EOA) and Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) are two conditions that affect coordination in children. Phenotypic identification of impaired coordination plays an important role in their diagnosis. Gait is one of the tests included in rating scales that can be used to assess motor coordination. A practical problem is that the resemblance between EOA and DCD symptoms can hamper their diagnosis. In this study we employed inertial sensors and a supervised classifier to obtain an automatic classification of the condition of participants. Data from shank and waist mounted inertial measurement units were used to extract features during gait in children diagnosed with EOA or DCD and age-matched controls. We defined a set of features from the recorded signals and we obtained the optimal features for classification using a backward sequential approach. We correctly classified 80.0%, 85.7%, and 70.0% of the control, DCD and EOA children, respectively. Overall, the automatic classifier correctly classified 78.4% of the participants, which is slightly better than the phenotypic assessment of gait by two pediatric neurologists (73.0%). These results demonstrate that automatic classification employing signals from inertial sensors obtained during gait maybe used as a support tool in the differential diagnosis of EOA and DCD. Furthermore, future extension of the classifier's test domains may help to further improve the diagnostic accuracy of pediatric coordination impairment. In this sense, this study may provide a first step towards incorporating a clinically objective and viable biomarker for identification of EOA and DCD.

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