Innovative wearable sensors that automatically produce electronic records may allow physicians to track the status of motor function and hence disease status and treatment efficacy in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a study presented at the 2022 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. 

Ten experienced clinicians from neurology, physiotherapy, and other rehabilitation practices participated in online interviews in which they experienced the electronic platform filled with data from a sample fictitious patient. All feedback was collected and analyzed by Seals and her team to create further design recommendations regarding the interface.

The overall response of the participants indicated that they would be likely to use this platform since it yields multiple benefits when compared to traditional in-office gait assessment. 


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“Our findings on community ambulation reflect prior research in suggesting that in-clinic gait assessments fail to capture the way in which mobility changes with circumstance and setting,” the authors said. “Longitudinal data that better capture a patient’s experiences with hilly streets and busy or uneven sidewalks offer a more complete story of gait and mobility trends in various contexts, and support the collaborative reflection participants suggested.”

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The interview records found that the top 2 priorities among all clinicians were safety and maintaining community ambulation in patients with MS. Regarding the platform, the main goals were being able to compare the current vs potential abilities of a single patient, recording their individual progress, and comparing it with normative data of healthy individuals with similar demographics.

Moreover, healthcare providers suggested that the system should include background information on the individuals’ circumstances, their daily activities, and data on the treatment response by marking the days when the modification of the scheme occurred and further specifying the changes made. All results should be available for viewing the patient in a longitudinal manner.

The clinicians also pointed out the importance of communicating and working with patients and other healthcare team members through the platform. Finally, they explained the importance of having the key information displayed first to allow a quick glance prior to the patient’s visit while still having all the other data available if needed. 

The electronic assessment included a gait performance time series that records gait velocity, stride length, step length, contact phase, flight phase, cadence, and stride angle; a gait parameter comparison; a single-variable left and right foot comparison; and other insights that expose trends and patterns such as days of the week when the patient may experience better or worse parameters.

Reference

Seals A, Pilloni G, Kim J, et al. ‘Are they doing better in the clinic or at home?’: understanding clinicians’ needs when visualizing wearable sensor data used in remote gait assessments for people with multiple sclerosis. Poster presented at: CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems: April 29-May 5, 2022; New Orleans, LA.