by Grobelny A, Behrens JR, Mertens S, Otte K, Mansow-Model S, Krüger T, Gusho E, Bellmann-Strobl J, Paul F, Brandt AU, Schmitz-Hübsch T
BACKGROUND: Gait is often impaired in people with multiple sclerosis (PwMS), but detailed assessment of gait impairment in research and care remains challenging. In a previous pilot study we reported the feasibility of visual perceptive computing (VPC) for gait assessment in PwMS using the Short Maximum Speed Walk (SMSW), which assesses gait on recording distances confined to less than 4 meters.
OBJECTIVE: To investigate the equivalence of SMSW to rater-based timed 25ft. walk (T25FW) in a large cohort of PwMS, and to investigate the association of SMSW-derived gait parameters with clinical disability, as well as subjective and objective gait impairment, in order to validate the SMSW as a quick and objective measure of clinical relevance possibly superior to T25FW.
METHODS: 95 PwMS and 60 healthy controls (HC) performed the SMSW using a VPC system with Microsoft Kinect. All participants received two immediate retests to establish test-retest-reliability. Both PwMS and HC performed the T25FW. PwMS were rated according to the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) and answered the 12-item Multiple Sclerosis Walking Scale (MSWS-12) as a measure of self-perceived walking impairment.
RESULTS: PwMS showed reduced average speed (p<0.001) and higher mediolateral deviation (p = 0.002) during SMSW than HC. Average speed was the most reliable SMSW parameter in PwMS and HC (intra-class correlation coefficient (ICC) in PwMS = 0.985, and in HC = 0.977). Average speed declined with age in PwMS and HC (r in PwMS = -0.648, and in HC = -0.452, both p<0.001). Correlation of SMSW average speed and T25FW speed was high in both groups (r in PwMS = 0.783, and in HC = 0.747, both p<0.001) and mean difference (0.0013 m/s) between methods was below smallest detectable change. Average speed correlated well with both clinical disability based on EDSS (r = -0.586, p<0.001) and self-perceived walking impairment based on MSWS-12 (r = -0.546, p<0.001).
CONCLUSION: VPC-assessed walking parameters during SMSW can reliably detect gait disturbance in PwMS over very short distance. Specifically, maximum gait speed can be obtained with high accuracy in this simple test set-up. Cross-sectional associations with disability and self-perceived walking impairment support clinical relevance. Given its objectivity in a simple test set-up, SMSW is superior to T25FW.