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Reliability of gait variability assessment in older populations

PI: Claudia Mazza

(University of Sheffield, UK; University of Rome "Foro Italico", Italy)

Gait variability is gaining popularity in the field of locomotor functional assessment.

However, the reliability of the parameters used for its quantification, when obtained from accelerations measured at lumbar level, has still not been properly investigated. The aim of this study is to fill this gap with reference to the assessment of elderly subjects and to propose relevant guidelines.

Twenty - nine older individuals, aged 84±5 years, performed a 6 minutes walking test along a 30 metre corridor while wearing one inertial sensor unit located at the lower trunk level. Gait variability parameters (standard deviation and coefficient of variation of the stride duration and correlation coefficients of the acceleration components between neighbouring strides) were calculated from the acceleration signals over 35 subsequent strides observed during 6 one - minute intervals extracted from the original signal. Reliability of the gait variability parameters was assessed using intraclass correlation coefficients. Results showed no significant changes during the 6 minutes for any of the investigated gait variability parameters, with reported ICC values higher than 0.93, indicating a strong reliability of the observed quantities.

These findings suggest that a minimum of 35 subsequent left and right strides, performed during a period of one minute may be adequate to reliably assess gait variability in older subjects. This can be especially important for older persons as it entails performing a test that is not physically demanding.


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