Background: In children, height is an essential element of a pediatric assessment, yet this measure is less likely to occur in nonambulatory children or those with unique disabilities. There is compelling support for surrogate measures; however, many of these are accompanied by limitations.
Objective: This study was conducted to evaluate whether the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-cleared Mercy TAPE could be adopted for height estimation.
Design: Development and external validation of a height-estimation method were conducted with retrospectively collected data in nonrehabilitation children. Testing of the model was performed prospectively in a pediatric rehabilitation population.
Setting: U.S. pediatric rehabilitation outpatient clinic.
Participants: Data from 19 407 children were used to develop the model. Data from an independent cohort of 1472 children were used for external validation, and the model was tested in 195 pediatric rehabilitation patients. Of the 195 patients, 57% required no wheelchair, 18% could ambulate independently for short distances, 17% could ambulate with an assistive device, and 8% were full-time wheelchair users.
Interventions: Not applicable.
Main outcome measurements: Relative error (RE), percentage error (PE), and percent predicted within 10% and 20% of actual height.
Results: Height estimated with the modified Mercy TAPE was highly predictive of actual height in nonrehabilitation children in the United States (RE [mean ± SD]: 1.1 ± 5.7 cm; PE [mean ± SD]: 1.0 ± 4.7%). In rehabilitation patients, height was underestimated to a greater extent (RE [mean ± SD]: 3.0 ± 7.4 cm; PE [mean ± SD]: -2.1 ± 5.6%).
Conclusions: The Mercy TAPE offers a reasonable approximation of height in ambulatory children, although it slightly underestimates height in the pediatric rehabilitation population. Consequently, this and other surrogate measures may be less suited to examining growth against a reference ambulatory population and more suited to following individual children over time.
© 2020 American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.