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Measuring postural stability with an inertial sensor: validity and sensitivity

Authors Neville C, Ludlow C, Rieger B

Received 3 July 2015

Accepted for publication 18 August 2015

Published 5 November 2015 Volume 2015:8 Pages 447—455


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser

Christopher Neville,1 Caleb Ludlow,1 Brian Rieger2

1Department of Physical Therapy Education, 2Upstate Concussion Center, SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, NY, USA

Introduction/purpose: To examine the concurrent validity, and sensitivity, of an inertial sensor for use in the assessment of postural sway.
Methods: This was a laboratory-based, repeated-measures design with ten healthy participants. Concurrent validity was tested between an inertial sensor, forceplate, and rigid-body kinematics across three commonly used balance tests. Further, the inertial sensor measures were compared across eight commonly used tests of balance. Variables manipulated include stance position, surface condition, and eyes-open versus eyes-closed.
Results: The inertial sensor was correlated to both the forceplate-derived measures (r=0.793) and rigid-body kinematics (r=0.887). Significant differences between the balance tests were observed when tested with the inertial sensor. In general, there was a three-way interactions between the three balance factors (surface, stance, and vision) leading to pairwise comparisons between each balance test. The root-mean-square showed an increase across tasks of greater difficulty ranging from an average of 0.0368 with two legs, eyes-open to 0.911 when tested during tandem stance, eyes-closed tested on a foam pad.
Conclusion: The new inertial sensor shows promise for use in the assessment of postural sway. Additionally, the inertial sensor appears sensitive to differences in balance tasks of varying degrees of difficulty when tested in a healthy sample of young adults. This inertial sensor may provide new opportunities for further research in the assessment of balance changes in the mild traumatic brain injury population.

Keywords: balance, concussion, forceplate, posturography, accelerometer

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