Validity and reliability of an accelerometer-based assessgame to quantify upper limb selective voluntary motor control
Keller, Jeffrey W.
van Hedel, Hubertus J. A.
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Keller, J. W., Fahr, A., Balzer, J., Lieber, J. & van Hedel, H. J. A. (2020) Validity and reliability of an accelerometer-based assessgame to quantify upper limb selective voluntary motor control. Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation, 17:89.
Introduction: Current clinical assessments measure selective voluntary motor control (SVMC) on an ordinal scale. We introduce a playful, interval-scaled method to assess SVMC in children with brain lesions and evaluate its validity and reliability. Methods: Thirty-one neurologically intact children (median [1st-3rd quartile]: 11.6 years [8.5–13.9]) and 33 patients (12.2 years [8.8–14.9]) affected by upper motor neuron lesions with mild to moderate impairments participated. Using accelerometers, they played a movement tracking game (assessgame) with isolated joint movements (shoulder, elbow, lower arm [pro−/supination], wrist, and fingers), yielding an accuracy score. Involuntary movements were recorded simultaneously and resulted in an involuntary movement score. Both scores were normalized to the performance of 33 neurologically intact adults (32.5 years [27.9; 38.3]), which represented physiological movement patterns. We correlated the assessgame outcomes with the Manual Ability Classification System, Selective Control of the Upper Extremity Scale, and a therapist rating of involuntary movements. Furthermore, a robust ANCOVA was performed with age as covariate, comparing patients to their healthy peers at the age levels of 7.5, 9, 10.5, 12, and 15 years. Intraclass correlation coefficients and smallest real differences indicated relative and absolute reliability. Results: Correlations (Kendall/Spearman) for the accuracy score were τ = 0.29 (p = 0.035; Manual Ability Classification System), ρ = − 0.37 (p = 0.035; Selective Control of the Upper Extremity Scale), and ρ = 0.64 (p < 0.001; therapist rating). Correlations for the involuntary movement metric were τ = 0.37 (p = 0.008), ρ = − 0.55 (p = 0.001), and ρ = 0.79 (p < 0.001), respectively. The robust ANCOVAs revealed that patients performed significantly poorer than their healthy peers in both outcomes and at all age levels except for the dominant/less affected arm, where the youngest age group did not differ significantly. Robust intraclass correlation coefficients and smallest real differences were 0.80 and 1.02 (46% of median patient score) for the accuracy and 0.92 and 2.55 (58%) for involuntary movements, respectively. Conclusion: While this novel assessgame is valid, the reliability might need to be improved. Further studies are needed to determine whether the assessgame is sensitive enough to detect changes in SVMC after a surgical or therapeutic intervention.