Objectives: To investigate the utility of a novel microprocessor-linked Step Watch Activity Monitor (SAM) to quantify ambulatory activity after stroke and to evaluate the validity and reliability of conventional accelerometers to measure free-living physical activity in this population.
Design: Cross-sectional with repeated measures of 2 separate 48-hour recordings in 17 persons wearing an ankle-mounted SAM and Caltrac, a hip-mounted mechanical accelerometer.
Setting: Home and community.
Participants: Seventeen subjects with chronic hemiparetic gait after stroke.
Interventions: Not applicable.
Main outcome measures: The SAM derived stride counts per day and Caltrac estimated the daily caloric expenditure of physical activity.
Results: SAM data revealed that stroke patients had a mean strides per day +/- standard deviation of 3035+/-1944 and demonstrated a broad range of daily activity profiles (400-6472 strides). SAM test-retest reliability was high across separate monitoring periods (r=.96, P<.001). Although Caltrac also revealed a broad range of daily activity calories (346+/-217 kcal/d; range, 83-1222 kcal/d), reliability was poor (r=.044, P=not significant) and Caltrac accounted for only 64% of the ambulatory activity quantified by the SAM.
Conclusions: Microprocessor-linked accelerometer monitoring, but not conventional accelerometers, are accurate and highly reliable for quantifying ambulatory activity levels in stroke patients. These findings support the utility of personal status monitoring of ambulatory activity as an outcomes instrument and metric in programs to increase physical activity and cardiovascular health after stroke.