Indexed on: 25 Mar '17Published on: 25 Mar '17Published in: Physical therapy
Commonly used activity monitors have been shown to be accurate in counting steps in active people, however, further validation is needed in slower walking populations.To determine the validity of activity monitors for measuring step counts in rehabilitation inpatients compared to visually-observed step counts. To explore the influence of gait parameters, activity monitor position and use of walkers on activity monitor accuracy.166 inpatients admitted to a rehabilitation unit with an average walking speed of 0.4 m/s (SD 0.2) wore 16 activity monitors (seven different devices in different positions) simultaneously during 6-minute and 6-metre walks. The number of steps taken during the tests was also counted by a physiotherapist. Gait parameters were assessed using the GAITRite system. To analyse the influence of different gait parameters, the percentage accuracy for each monitor was graphed against various gait parameters for each activity monitor.The StepWatch , Fitbit One worn on the ankle and the ActivPAL showed excellent agreement with observed step count (ICC 2,1 0.98; 0.92; 0.78 respectively). Other devices ( Fitbit Charge , Fitbit One worn on hip, G-Sensor , Garmin Vivofit , Actigraph ) showed poor agreement with the observed step count (ICC 2,1 0.12-0.40). Percentage agreement with observed step count was highest for the StepWatch (mean 98%). The StepWatch and the Fitbit One worn on the ankle maintained accuracy in individuals who walked more slowly and with shorter strides but other devices were less accurate in these individuals.There were small numbers of participants for some gait parameters.The StepWatch showed the highest accuracy and closest agreement with observed step count. This device can be confidently used by researchers for accurate measurement of step counts in inpatient rehabilitation in individuals who walk slowly. If immediate feedback is desired, the Fitbit One when worn on the ankle would be the best choice for this population.