Reliability of IMU-Derived Static Balance Parameters in Neurological Diseases

Static balance is a commonly used health measure in clinical practice. Usually, static balance parameters are assessed via force plates or, more recently, with inertial measurement units (IMUs). Multiple parameters have been developed over the years to compare patient groups and understand changes over time. However, the day-to-day variability of these parameters using IMUs has not yet been tested in a neurogeriatric cohort. The aim of the study was to examine day-to-day variability of static balance parameters of five experimental conditions in a cohort of neurogeriatric patients using data extracted from a lower back-worn IMU. A group of 41 neurogeriatric participants (age: 78 ± 5 years) underwent static balance assessment on two occasions 12-24 h apart. Participants performed a side-by-side stance, a semi-tandem stance, a tandem stance on hard ground with eyes open, and a semi-tandem assessment on a soft surface with eyes open and closed for 30 s each. The intra-class correlation coefficient (two-way random, average of the k raters' measurements, ICC2, k) and minimal detectable change at a 95% confidence level (MDC95%) were calculated for the sway area, velocity, acceleration, jerk, and frequency. Velocity, acceleration, and jerk were calculated in both anterior-posterior (AP) and medio-lateral (ML) directions. Nine to 41 participants could successfully perform the respective balance tasks. Considering all conditions, acceleration-related parameters in the AP and ML directions gave the highest ICC results. The MDC95% values for all parameters ranged from 39% to 220%, with frequency being the most consistent with values of 39-57%, followed by acceleration in the ML (43-55%) and AP direction (54-77%). The present results show moderate to poor ICC and MDC values for IMU-based static balance assessment in neurogeriatric patients. This suggests a limited reliability of these tasks and parameters, which should induce a careful selection of potential clinically relevant parameters.


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