Inferring Physical Function From Wearable Activity Monitors: Analysis of Free-Living Activity Data From Patients With Knee Osteoarthritis

JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2018 Dec 18;6(12):e11315. doi: 10.2196/11315.


Background: Clinical assessments for physical function do not objectively quantify routine daily activities. Wearable activity monitors (WAMs) enable objective measurement of daily activities, but it remains unclear how these map to clinically measured physical function measures.

Objective: This study aims to derive a representation of physical function from daily measurements of free-living activity obtained through a WAM. In addition, we evaluate our derived measure against objectively measured function using an ordinal classification setup.

Methods: We defined function profiles representing average time spent in a set of pattern classes over consecutive days. We constructed a function profile using minute-level activity data from a WAM available from the Osteoarthritis Initiative. Using the function profile as input, we trained statistical models that classified subjects into quartiles of objective measurements of physical function as measured through the 400-m walk test, 20-m walk test, and 5 times sit-stand test. Furthermore, we evaluated model performance on held-out data.

Results: The function profile derived from minute-level activity data can accurately predict physical performance as measured through clinical assessments. Using held-out data, the Goodman-Kruskal Gamma statistic obtained in classifying performance values in the first quartile, interquartile range, and the fourth quartile was 0.62, 0.53, and 0.51 for the 400-m walk, 20-m walk, and 5 times sit-stand tests, respectively.

Conclusions: Function profiles accurately represent physical function, as demonstrated by the relationship between the profiles and clinically measured physical performance. The estimation of physical performance through function profiles derived from free-living activity data may enable remote functional monitoring of patients.

Keywords: passive monitoring; physical function; physical function profile; statistical learning; wearable activity data.