Measuring gait function has become an essential tool in the assessment of mobility in aging populations for both, clinicians and researchers. A variety of systems exist that assess gait parameters such as gait cycle time, gait speed or duration of relative gait phases. Due to different measurement principles such as inertial or pressure sensors, accurate detection of spatiotemporal events may vary between systems.
To compare the absolute agreement and consistency in spatiotemporal gait parameters among five different clinical gait analysis systems using different sensor technologies.
We compared two devices using inertial sensors (GaitUp & Mobility Lab), two devices using pressure sensor systems (GAITRite & Zebris) as well as one optical system (OptoGait). Twelve older adults walked at self-selected speed through a walkway integrating all of the above systems. Basic spatiotemporal parameters (gait cycle time, cadence, gait speed and stride length) as well as measures of relative phase (stance phase, swing phase, double stance phase, single limb support) were extracted from all systems. We used Intraclass Correlation Coefficients as measures of agreement and consistency.
High agreement and consistency between all systems was found for basic spatiotemporal parameters, whereas parameters of relative phase showed poorer agreement and consistency. Overground measurement (GAITRite & OptoGait) showed generally higher agreement with each other as compared to inertial sensor-based systems.
Our results indicate that accurate detection of both, the heel-strike and toe-off event are crucial for reliable results. Systematic errors in the detection of one or both events may only have a small impact on basic spatiotemporal outcomes as errors remain consistent from step to step. Relative phase parameters on the other hand may be affected to a much larger extent as these differences lead to a systematic increase or reduction of relative phase durations.