Measuring spinal mobility using an inertial measurement unit system: a validation study in axial spondyloarthritis

I. Concepción Aranda-Valera, Antonio Cuesta-Vargas, Juan Luis Garrido-Castro, Philip Gardiner, Clementina López-Medina, Pedro M Machado, Joan Condell, James Connolly, Jonathan Williams, Karla Munoz Esquivel, Tom O'Dwyer, M. Carmen Castro-Villegas, Cristina González-Navas, Eduardo Collantes-Estévez

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Portable inertial measurement units (IMUs) are beginning to be used in human motion analysis. These devices can be useful for the evaluation of spinal mobility in individuals with axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA). The objectives of this study were to assess (a) concurrent criterion validity in individuals with axSpA by comparing spinal mobility measured by an IMU sensor-based system vs. optical motion capture as the reference standard; (b) discriminant validity comparing mobility with healthy volunteers; (c) construct validity by comparing mobility results with relevant outcome measures. A total of 70 participants with axSpA and 20 healthy controls were included. Individuals with axSpA completed function and activity questionnaires, and their mobility was measured using conventional metrology for axSpA, an optical motion capture system, and an IMU sensor-based system. The UCOASMI, a metrology index based on measures obtained by motion capture, and the IUCOASMI, the same index using IMU measures, were also calculated. Descriptive and inferential analyses were conducted to show the relationships between outcome measures. There was excellent agreement (ICC > 0.90) between both systems and a significant correlation between the IUCOASMI and conventional metrology (r = 0.91), activity (r = 0.40), function (r = 0.62), quality of life (r = 0.55) and structural change (r = 0.76). This study demonstrates the validity of an IMU system to evaluate spinal mobility in axSpA. These systems are more feasible than optical motion capture systems, and they could be useful in clinical practice.
Original languageEnglish
Article number426
Number of pages13
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jun 2020


  • Axial spondyloarthritis
  • Inertial measurement unit
  • Spinal mobility


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