A Novel Approach to Ambulatory Monitoring
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BACKGROUND: Promoting whole body activities, such as walking, can help improve recovery after stroke. However, little information exists regarding the characteristics of daily walking in patients enrolled in rehabilitation poststroke. The objectives of this study were to: (1) examine the quantity of walking and duration of individual bouts of walking during an inpatient day, (2) compare standard laboratory symmetry measures with measures of symmetry captured throughout the day, and (3) investigate the association between quantity of walking and indices of stroke severity. METHODS: The study examined ambulatory activity among 16 inpatients with subacute stroke who were bilaterally instrumented with a wireless accelerometer above the ankle for approximately 8 continuous hours. RESULTS: On average, patients demonstrated 47.5 minutes (standard deviation [SD] = 26.6 minutes) of total walking activity and walking bout durations of 54.4 s (SD = 21.5 s). A statistically significant association was found between the number of walking bouts to total walking time (r = .76; P = .006) and laboratory gait speed (r = .51; P = .045) and between laboratory gait speed and balance impairment (r = .60; P = .013). Also, a significant increase in gait asymmetry was observed during day-long measurement compared with the standard laboratory-based assessment (P = .006). CONCLUSIONS: Rather modest amounts of daily walking were found for these ambulatory inpatients, consistent with previous reports about patients after stroke. Bouts of walking were short in duration, and the gait was more asymmetrical, compared with a standard gait assessment. Unobtrusive monitoring of daily walking exposes the characteristics and temporal qualities of poststroke ambulation.
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