Principal component analysis for ataxic gait using a triaxial accelerometer

Akira Matsushima, Kunihiro Yoshida, Hirokazu Genno, Shu-Ichi Ikeda
Journal of Neuroengineering and Rehabilitation 2017 May 2, 14 (1): 37

BACKGROUND: It is quite difficult to evaluate ataxic gait quantitatively in clinical practice. The aim of this study was to analyze the characteristics of ataxic gait using a triaxial accelerometer and to develop a novel biomarker of integrated gate parameters for ataxic gait.

METHODS: Sixty-one patients with spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA) or multiple system atrophy with predominant cerebellar ataxia (MSA-C) and 57 healthy control subjects were enrolled. The subjects were instructed to walk 10 m for a total of 12 times on a flat floor at their usual walking speed with a triaxial accelerometer attached to their back. Gait velocity, cadence, step length, step regularity, step symmetry, and degree of body sway were evaluated. Principal component analysis (PCA) was used to analyze the multivariate gait parameters. The Scale for the Assessment and Rating of Ataxia (SARA) was evaluated on the same day of the 10-m walk trial.

RESULTS: PCA divided the gait parameters into four principal components in the controls and into two principal components in the patients. The four principal components in the controls were similar to those found in earlier studies. The second principal component in the patients had relevant factor loading values for gait velocity, step length, regularity, and symmetry in addition to the degree of body sway in the medio-lateral direction. The second principal component score (PCS) in the patients was significantly correlated with disease duration and the SARA score of gait (ρ = -0.363, p = 0.004; ρ = -0.574, p < 0.001, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS: PCA revealed the main component of ataxic gait. The PCS of the main component was significantly different between the patients and controls, and it was well correlated with disease duration and the SARA score of gait in the patients. We propose that this score provides a novel method to assess the severity of ataxic gait quantitatively using a triaxial accelerometer.

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