Ambulatory assessment of movement quality in stroke survivors using a wrist-worn inertial sensor

Stroke is a leading cause of long-term disability that may lead to significant functional motor impairments in the upper limb (UL). Wrist-worn inertial sensors have emerged as an objective, minimally-obtrusive tool to monitor UL motor function in the real-world setting, such that rehabilitation interventions can be individually tailored to maximize functional performance. However, current wearable solutions focus on capturing the quantity of movement without considering the quality of movement. This paper introduces a novel approach to unobtrusively estimate the quality of UL movements in stroke survivors using a single wrist-worn inertial sensor during any type of voluntary UL movements. The proposed method exploits kinematic characteristics of voluntary limb movements that are optimized by the central nervous system during motor control. This work demonstrates that the proposed method could extract clinically important information during random UL movements in 16 stroke survivors, showing a statistically significant correlation to the Functional Ability Scale – a clinically validated score for movement quality.