Accuracy of 2 activity monitors in detecting steps in people with stroke and traumatic brain injury


Physical Therapy


Background. Advances in sensor technologies and signal processing techniques provide a method to accurately measure walking activity in the home and community. Activity monitors geared toward consumer or patient use may be an alternative to more expensive monitors designed for research to measure stepping activity. Objective. The objective of this study was to examine the accuracy of 2 consumer/patient activity monitors, the Fitbit Ultra and the Nike+ Fuelband, in identifying stepping activity in people with stroke and traumatic brain injury (TBI). Secondarily, the study sought to compare the accuracy of these 2 activity monitors with that of the StepWatch Activity Monitor (SAM) and a pedometer, the Yamax Digi-Walker SW-701 pedometer (YDWP).Design. A cross-sectional design was used for this study. Method. People with chronic stroke and TBI wore the 4 activity monitors while they performed the Two-Minute Walk Test (2MWT), during which they were videotaped. Activity monitor estimated steps taken were compared with actual steps taken counted from videotape. Accuracy and agreement between activity monitor estimated steps and actual steps were examined using intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC [2,1]) and the Bland-Altman method. Results. The SAM demonstrated the greatest accuracy (ICC [2,1] =.97, mean difference between actual steps and SAM estimated steps=4.7 steps) followed by the Fitbit Ultra (ICC [2,1] =.73, mean difference between actual steps and Fitbit Ultra estimated steps = - 97 steps), the YDWP (ICC [2,1] =.42, mean difference between actual steps and YDWP estimated steps= -28.8 steps), and the Nike+ Fuelband (ICC [2,1] =.20, mean difference between actual steps and Nike+ Fuelband estimated steps =-66.2 steps). Limitations. Walking activity was measured over a short distance in a closed environment, and participants were high functioning ambulators, with a mean gait speed of 0.93 m/s. Conclusions. The Fitbit Ultra may be a low-cost alternative to measure the stepping activity in level, predictable environments of people with stroke and TBI who can walk at speeds >0.58 m/s. © 2014 American Physical Therapy Association.

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Physical Therapy









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