Proof-of-Concept Testing of a Real-Time mHealth Measure to Estimate Postural Control During Walking: A Potential Application for Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries

Asian Pac Isl Nurs J. 2018;3(4):177-189. doi: 10.31372/20180304.1027.


Background: Most individuals with mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) experience post-injury deficits in postural control. Currently available measures of postural control are lab-based or supervised, which may hinder timely symptom assessment for individuals with mTBI, including Asian populations, who do not seek initial screening post-injury. In this proof-of-concept testing study, we introduce a real-time mobile health (mHealth) system to measure postural control during walking. The proposed mHealth system can be used for home-based symptom assessment and management of mTBI. Methods: In our proposed mHealth system, a smartwatch, a smartphone, and a cloud server communicate to measure, collect, and store body balance data in real time. Specifically, we focus on the rotation vector data that have been reported to be the most effective in terms of differentiating balance control during walking across different participants. Results: Constant motion change in four participants (two females and two males; three healthy participants, and one individual with reduced physical mobility) was collected and analyzed. The results of our data analysis show that, compared to healthy participants, the individual was reduced physical mobility had a wider range of motion between right and left, up and down, and forward and backward while walking. We also found that female participants had narrower ranges of right-to-left and up-and-down motions than their male counterparts. Conclusions: Our results highlight the potential of the proposed real-time mHealth system for home-based symptom assessment and management of mTBI, which may benefit Asian and other nonwhite racial minority groups that appear to be more reluctant to access post-acute rehabilitation services.

Keywords: mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI); mobile health (mHealth); postural control; real-time measure.