Objectives: The aims of this study were to (i) investigate instrumented physical capability (iCap) as a valid method during a large study and (ii) determine whether iCap can provide important additional features of postural control and gait to categorise cohorts not previously possible with manual recordings.
Study design: Cross-sectional analysis involving instrumented testing on 74 adults who were recruited as part of a pilot intervention study; LiveWell. Participants wore a single accelerometer-based monitor (lower back) during standardised physical capability tests so that outcomes could be compared directly with manual recordings (stopwatch and measurement tape) made concurrently.
Main outcome measures: Time, distance, postural control and gait characteristics.
Results: Agreement between manual and iCap ranged from moderate to excellent (0.649-0.983) with mean differences between methods low and deemed acceptable. Additionally, iCap successfully quantified (i) postural control characteristics which showed sensitivity to distinguish between 5 variations of the standing balance test and (ii) 14 gait characteristics known to be sensitive to age/pathology.
Conclusions: Our findings show that iCap can provide robust quantitative data about physical capability during standardised tests while also providing sensitive (age/pathology) postural control and gait characteristics not previously quantifiable with manual recordings. The methodology which we propose may have practical utility in a wide range of clinical and public health surveys and studies, including intervention studies, where assessment could be undertaken within diverse settings. This will need to be tested in further validation studies in a wider range of settings.