Clinically feasible methods of assessing postural control such as timed standing balance and functional reach tests provide important information, however, they cannot accurately quantify specific postural control mechanisms. The Microsoft Kinect™ system provides real-time anatomical landmark position data in three dimensions (3D), and given that it is inexpensive, portable and simple to setup it may bridge this gap. This study assessed the concurrent validity of the Microsoft Kinect™ against a benchmark reference, a multiple-camera 3D motion analysis system, in 20 healthy subjects during three postural control tests: (i) forward reach, (ii) lateral reach, and (iii) single-leg eyes-closed standing balance. For the reach tests, the outcome measures consisted of distance reached and trunk flexion angle in the sagittal (forward reach) and coronal (lateral reach) planes. For the standing balance test the range and deviation of movement in the anatomical landmark positions for the sternum, pelvis, knee and ankle and the lateral and anterior trunk flexion angle were assessed. The Microsoft Kinect™ and 3D motion analysis systems had comparable inter-trial reliability (ICC difference=0.06±0.05; range, 0.00-0.16) and excellent concurrent validity, with Pearson's r-values >0.90 for the majority of measurements (r=0.96±0.04; range, 0.84-0.99). However, ordinary least products analyses demonstrated proportional biases for some outcome measures associated with the pelvis and sternum. These findings suggest that the Microsoft Kinect™ can validly assess kinematic strategies of postural control. Given the potential benefits it could therefore become a useful tool for assessing postural control in the clinical setting.
Copyright © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.