Text Size: a  |   a 

MS Gait Analysis Discovers 2 New Markers of Disability and Fatigue

February 29, 2016

An article published in the journal PLOS ONE titled “Disability and Fatigue Can Be Objectively Measured in MS” has established two new and highly sensitive observer-independent measures of disability that have a strong connection with fatigue.

As many already know, disability assessment is crucial, making it both easier on researchers and clinicians to perform their jobs. An accurate assessment can go a long way towards accurately determining if an intervention under evaluation is actually modifying the disease, and, in the clinic, for tracking MS progression and the suitability of treatment.

The research team investigated the feasibility of inertial sensor-based gait analysis in MS. The study included 80 MS patients, 56 with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) and 24 with progressive MS, and 50 healthy controls. Clinical disability was assessed through the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) and timed 25 Foot Walk (T25FW), which measures the time necessary for a patient to walk 25 feet at maximum speed.

Gait analysis was performed by using a commercially available magnetic inertial measurement unit system, seven wireless MIMUs placed on the pelvis, and the thigh, shank, and foot of both legs. Researchers then recorded two measurements in a one-minute walking test, and mean and standard deviation of range of motion (ROM), or mROM and sROM, respectively.

The results indicated two novel independent measures of disability. Hip mROM showed great sensitivity in the measurement of lower limb motor impairment and strongly correlated with muscle strength, being altered in patients without clinically detectable disability. The motor performance E index, defined as the sum of sROMs, was only altered in patients with moderate to severe disability, therefore functioning as a marker according to disability. It also strongly correlated with fatigue and patient-perceived health status.