Measuring Spinal Mobility Using an Inertial Measurement Unit System: A Reliability Study in Axial Spondyloarthritis

Megan O’Grady, Tom O'Dwyer, James Connolly, Joan Condell, Karla Munoz Esquivel, Finbar D. O’Shea, Philip Gardiner, Fiona Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
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The objectives of this study were to evaluate the reliability of wearable inertial motion unit (IMU) sensors in measuring spinal range of motion under supervised and unsupervised conditions in both laboratory and ambulatory settings. A secondary aim of the study was to evaluate the reliability of composite IMU metrology scores (IMU-ASMI (Amb)). Forty people with axSpA participated in this clinical measurement study. Participant spinal mobility was assessed by conventional metrology (Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Metrology Index, linear version—BASMILin) and by a wireless IMU sensor-based system which measured lumbar flexion-extension, lateral flexion and rotation. Each sensor-based movement test was converted to a normalized index and used to calculate IMU-ASMI (Amb) scores. Test-retest reliability was evaluated using intra-class correlation coefficients (ICC). There was good to excellent agreement for all spinal range of movements (ICC > 0.85) and IMU-ASMI (Amb) scores (ICC > 0.87) across all conditions. Correlations between IMU-ASMI (Amb) scores and conventional metrology were strong (Pearson correlation ≥ 0.85). An IMU sensor-based system is a reliable way of measuring spinal lumbar mobility in axSpA under supervised and unsupervised conditions. While not a replacement for established clinical measures, composite IMU-ASMI (Amb) scores may be reliably used as a proxy measure of spinal mobility.
Original languageEnglish
Article number490
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 10 Mar 2021


  • axial spondyloarthritis
  • spinal mobility
  • inertial measurement unit
  • reliability


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