You are here:

MS research update - Could a wearable assessment device improve walking in MS? - 23 September 2014

Summary

Walking difficulties are common in MS. However when a health professional assesses walking in a person with MS, the test is usually short and they are usually done in a clinic setting. Having a wearable device that takes measurements from the feet during walking, would enable health professionals to assess walking in different situations and reassess walking over time to see if treatments are making a difference.

This study was an initial test of a new device that can assess walking in people with MS.

Eight people with MS and six healthy controls took part in the study. Participants were fitted with a system that used sensors to assess their walking. Four wireless pressure sensors in the shoe insole sent information via Bluetooth to a smartphone which collected the data.

This study demonstrates that the device could be used to measure walking characteristics. The study found that according to the measurements taken by the device, people with MS appeared to press their feet harder and did not control their foot movements as well as people without MS.

The authors conclude that further studies are needed as this was only a pilot study on a new device. They suggest they could insert more sensors to assess all parts of the foot, so the cause of any walking difficulties could be easily identified and this could assist in working out the best way of correcting them.

Background

Walking difficulties are common in MS. Problems with walking can result in falls, lead to poor posture and cause other aches and pains through the strain the person puts on their body as they try to walk in a normal and steady manner.

However when a health professional assesses walking in a person with MS, the test is usually short and as they are usually done in a clinic setting, they do not cover all of the situations the person would encounter through the day. Having a wearable device that takes measurements from the feet during walking, would enable health professionals to assess walking in different situations, see what the problems were, enable them to suggest the best solutions for those problems and then reassess walking over time with the same device to see if the solutions have helped. This study was an initial test of a new device that puts sensors in a shoe to assess walking in people with MS.

How this study was carried out

Eight people (four women, four men) with MS and six healthy controls (one woman, five men) took part in the study. The participants' ages ranged from 21 to 53. All were requested to use flat comfortable shoes.

Participants were fitted with a system that used sensors to assess their walking. Four wireless pressure sensors sent information via Bluetooth to a smartphone which collected the data. This data could be accessed through an application on the smartphone or through a web application on a computer.

Once participants were fitted with the sensors, they were asked to walk normally on a 7.5 metre line which had been marked on the floor, they had to walk along the line four times without stopping, just turning around each time.

What was found

The study found that according to the measurements taken by the device, people with MS appeared to press their feet harder and did not control their foot movements as well as people without MS.

What does it mean?

This study demonstrates that the device could be used to measure walking characteristics. In this study the researchers only tested a few sensors, so they suggest they could insert more sensors into the device to assess all parts of the foot, so the cause of any walking difficulties could be easily identified. The authors conclude that further studies are needed as this was only a pilot study on a new device. However it could lead to better assessment of walking in people with MS, including during different situations throughout the day, this could help identify any problems earlier and assist in working out the best way of correcting them.

Viqueira Villarejo M, Maeso García J, García Zapirain B, et al.
Technological solution for determining gait parameters using pressure sensors: a case study of multiple sclerosis patients.
Biomed Mater Eng. 2014 Jan 1;24(6):3511-22.
abstract
Read the full text of this paper (PDF)

More about walking

Many people with MS have some difficulties with walking but walking problems vary considerably from one person with MS to another. Common difficulties include: unsteadiness on walking or turning, tripping, stumbling, weakness of the leg when weight is on it and difficulty placing the foot on the ground. Other MS symptoms can also make walking more difficult, such as vision problemsbalance problems and pain. Having trouble walking can mean people with MS are more vulnerable to tripping and falling. It can also use up more energy and people may alter how they walk to try and compensate for the difficulty they are having. This alteration in walking can result in bad posture which can lead to pain and strains.

If you are experiencing walking difficulties, you can speak to your MS nurse or GP who may refer you to physiotherapy services. The best way forward depends on what is causing the difficulties. Treatment may involve physiotherapy or drug treatments to alleviate specific underlying symptoms such as spasticity or pain.

If you are concerned about falls, you might like to read Falls: managing the ups and downs of MS, which gives tips and suggestions for reducing the risks of falling. This can be read online, downloaded as a pdf or ordered as a printed version.

Assessment tools

Bisseriex H, Guinet-Lacoste A, Chevret-Méasson M, et al.
Sexual dysfunction management and expectations assessment in multiple sclerosis-female (SEA-MS-F): Creation and validation of a specific questionnaire.
J Sex Med. 2014 Sep 19. [Epub ahead of print] 
abstract

Stuifbergen AK, Morris M, Becker H, et al.
Self-report versus performance measure in gauging level of function with multiple sclerosis.
Disabil Health J. 2014 Oct;7(4):413-8. 
abstract

Learmonth YC, Sandroff BM, Pilutti LA, et al.
Cognitive motor interference during walking in multiple sclerosis using an alternate-letter alphabet task.
Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2014 Aug;95(8):1498-503. 
abstract

Welk B, Morrow S, Madarasz W, et al.
The validity and reliability of the neurogenic bladder symptom score.
J Urol. 2014 Aug;192(2):452-7. 
abstract
Read the full text of this paper

CCSVI

Ploughman M, Harris C, Hogan SH, et al.
Navigating the "liberation procedure": a qualitative study of motivating and hesitating factors among people with multiple sclerosis.
Patient Prefer Adherence. 2014;8:1205-13. 
abstract
Read the full text of this paper

Co-existing conditions

Gaber TA, Oo WW, Ringrose H.
When two common disorders collide.
NeuroRehabilitation. 2014 Sep 18. [Epub ahead of print]
abstract

Disease modifying treatments

Masid ML, Ocaňa RH, Gil MJ, et al.
A patient care program for adjusting the autoinjector needle depth according to subcutaneous tissue thickness in patients with multiple sclerosis receiving subcutaneous injections of glatiramer acetate.
J Neurosci Nurs. 2014 Sep 14. [Epub ahead of print]
abstract
Read the full text of this paper (PDF)

Physical activity

Blikman LJ, van Meeteren J, Horemans HL, et al.
Is physical behavior affected in fatigued persons with multiple sclerosis?: Physical behavior in multiple sclerosis.
Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2014 Sep 16. [Epub ahead of print] 
abstract

Ternes AM, Fielding J, Corben LA, et al.
Movement planning and online control in multiple sclerosis: assessment using a fitts law reciprocal aiming task.
Cogn Behav Neurol. 2014 Sep;27(3):139-47. 
abstract

Prognosis

Cambil-Martín J, Galiano-Castillo N, Muñoz-Hellín E, et al.
Influence of body mass index on psychological and functional outcomes in patients with multiple sclerosis: a cross-sectional study.
Nutr Neurosci. 2014 Sep 16. [Epub ahead of print]
abstract

Rehabilitation

Smale KJ, Carr SE, Schwartz AF, et al.
An evaluation of treatment integrity in a randomised controlled trial of memory rehabilitation for people with multiple sclerosis.
Clin Rehabil. 2014 Sep 19. [Epub ahead of print] 
abstract

Pusswald G, Mildner C, Zebenholzer K, et al.
A neuropsychological rehabilitation program for patients with Multiple Sclerosis based on the model of the ICF.
NeuroRehabilitation. 2014 Sep 18. [Epub ahead of print]
abstract

Rietberg MB, van Wegen EE, Eyssen IC, et al.
Effects of multidisciplinary rehabilitation on chronic fatigue in multiple sclerosis: a randomized controlled trial.
PLoS One. 2014;9(9):e107710. 
abstract
Read the full text of this paper

Eguiluz-Perez G, Garcia-Zapirain B.
Comprehensive verticality analysis and web-based rehabilitation system for people with multiple sclerosis with supervised medical monitoring.
Biomed Mater Eng. 2014 Jan 1;24(6):3493-502. 
abstract
Read the full text of this paper

Symptoms and symptom management

Vitkova M, Gdovinova Z, Rosenberger J, et al.
Factors associated with poor sleep quality in patients with multiple sclerosis differ by disease duration.
Disabil Health J. 2014 Oct;7(4):466-71. 
abstract

Kamin F, Rommer PS, Abu-Mugheisib M, et al.
Effects of intrathecal triamincinolone-acetonide treatment in MS patients with therapy-resistant spasticity.
Spinal Cord. 2014 Sep 16. [Epub ahead of print] 
abstract

Year: 2016

December 2016

November 2016

July 2016

May 2016

April 2016

March 2016

February 2016

January 2016

Year: 2015

December 2015

November 2015

October 2015

May 2015

April 2015

March 2015

February 2015

January 2015

Year: 2014

December 2014

November 2014

October 2014

September 2014

August 2014

July 2014

June 2014

May 2014

April 2014

March 2014

February 2014

January 2014

Year: 2013

December 2013

November 2013

October 2013

September 2013

August 2013

July 2013

June 2013

May 2013

April 2013

March 2013

February 2013

January 2013

Year: 2012

December 2012

November 2012

October 2012

September 2012

August 2012

July 2012

June 2012

May 2012

April 2012

March 2012

February 2012

January 2012

Print this page