Step counts measured by activity monitoring devices (AMDs) and smartphones (SPs) can objectively measure a patient's activity levels after total hip and knee arthroplasty (total joint arthroplasty [TJA]). This study investigated the use and optimal body location of AMDs and SPs to measure step counts in the postoperative period.
This was a two-armed, prospective, observational study of TJA inpatients (n = 24) and 2-week status after TJA (n = 25) completing a 100-ft walk. Observer-counted steps were compared with those measured by AMDs (wrist and ankle) and SPs (hip and neck). Acceptable error was defined as <30%. Error rates were treated as both dichotomous and continuous variables.
AMD and SP step counts had overall unacceptable error in TJA inpatients. AMDs on the contralateral ankle and SPs on the contralateral hip had error rates less than 30% at 2 weeks postoperatively. Two-week postoperative patients required lower levels of assist (11/25 walker; 4/25 no assist), and significant improvements in stride length (total hip arthroplasty 1.27 versus 1.83 ft/step; total knee arthroplasty 1.42 versus 1.83 ft/step) and cadence (total hip arthroplasty 74.6 versus 166.0 steps/min; total knee arthroplasty 73.5 versus 144.4 steps/min) were seen between inpatient and postoperative patients. Regression analysis found that increases in postoperative day and cadence led to a decrease in device error.
In inpatients with TJA, AMDs and SPs have unacceptable variability and limited utility for step counting when using a walker. As gait normalizes and the level of ambulatory assist decreases, AMDs on the contralateral ankle and SPs on the contralateral hip demonstrated low error rates. These devices offer a novel method for measurement of objective outcomes and potential for remote monitoring of patient progress after TJA.
Level of evidence:
Level II, prospective, three-armed study, prognostic study