Assessment of postural sway in individuals with multiple sclerosis using a novel wearable inertial sensor

Ruopeng Sun, Yaejin Moon, Ryan S. McGinnis, Kirsten Seagers, Robert W. Motl, Nirav Sheth, John A. Wright, Roozbeh Ghaffari, Shyamal Patel, Jacob J. Sosnoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Balance impairment is common in individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS). However, objective assessment of balance usually requires clinical expertise and/or the use of expensive and obtrusive measuring equipment. These barriers to the objective assessment of balance may be overcome with the development of a lightweight inertial sensor system. In this study, we examined the concurrent validity of a novel wireless, skin-mounted inertial sensor system (BioStamp®, MC10 Inc.) to measure postural sway in individuals with MS by comparing measurement agreement between this novel sensor and gold standard measurement tools (force plate and externally validated inertial sensor). A total of 39 individuals with MS and 15 healthy controls participated in the study. Participants with MS were divided into groups based on the amount of impairment (MSMild: EDSS 2-4, n = 19; MSSevere: EDSS ≥6, n = 20). The balance assessment consisted of two 30-s quiet standing trials in each of three conditions: Eyes open/firm surface, eyes closed/firm surface, and eyes open/foam surface. For each trial, postural sway was recorded with a force plate (Bertec) and simultaneously using two accelerometers (BioStamp and Xsens) mounted on the participant's posterior trunk at L5. Sway metrics (sway area, sway path length, root mean square amplitude, mean velocity, JERK, and total power) were derived to compare the measurement agreement among the measurement devices. Excellent agreement (intraclass correlation coefficients >0.9) between sway metrics derived from the BioStamp and the MTx sensors were observed across all conditions and groups. Good to excellent correlations (r >0.7) between devices were observed in all sway metrics and conditions. Additionally, the acceleration sway metrics were nearly as effective as the force plate sway metrics in differentiating individuals with poor balance from healthy controls. Overall, the BioStamp sensor is a valid and objective measurement tool for postural sway assessment. This novel, lightweight and portable sensor may offer unique advantages in tracking patient's postural performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalDigital Biomarkers
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Inertial sensors
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Postural sway

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Health Informatics


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