Lower-limb prosthesis users (LLPUs) experience increased fall risk due to gait and balance impairments. Clinical outcome measures are useful for measuring balance impairment and fall risk screening but experience limited resolution and ceiling effects. Recent advances in wearable sensors that can measure different components of gait stability may address these limitations. This study assessed feasibility and construct validity of a wearable sensor system (APDM Mobility Lab) to measure postural control and gait stability.
Materials and Methods
Lower-limb prosthesis users (n = 22) and able-bodied controls (n = 24) completed an Instrumented Stand-and-Walk Test (ISAW) while wearing the wearable sensors. Known-groups analysis (prosthesis versus controls) and convergence analysis (Prosthetic Limb Users Survey of Mobility [PLUS-M] and Activities-Specific Balance Confidence [ABC] scale) were performed on 20 stability-related measures.
The system was applied without complications; however, missing anticipatory postural adjustment data points for nine subjects affected the analysis. Of the 20 analyzed measures output by the sensors, only three significantly differed (P < 0.05) between two cohorts, and two demonstrated statistically significant correlations with the self-report measures.
The results of this study suggest the clinical feasibility but only partial construct validity of the wearable sensor system in conjunction with the ISAW test to measure LLPU stability and balance. The sample consisted of high-functioning LLPUs, so further research should evaluate a more representative sample with additional outcome measures and tasks.