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Exploring the Role of Accelerometers in the Measurement of Real World Upper-Limb Use After Stroke

  • Kathryn S. Hayward (a1) (a2), Janice J. Eng (a1) (a3), Lara A. Boyd (a1), Bimal Lakhani (a1), Julie Bernhardt (a2) (a4) and Catherine E. Lang (a5)...


The ultimate goal of upper-limb rehabilitation after stroke is to promote real-world use, that is, use of the paretic upper-limb in everyday activities outside the clinic or laboratory. Although real-world use can be collected through self-report questionnaires, an objective indicator is preferred. Accelerometers are a promising tool. The current paper aims to explore the feasibility of accelerometers to measure upper-limb use after stroke and discuss the translation of this measurement tool into clinical practice. Accelerometers are non-invasive, wearable sensors that measure movement in arbitrary units called activity counts. Research to date indicates that activity counts are a reliable and valid index of upper-limb use. While most accelerometers are unable to distinguish between the type and quality of movements performed, recent advancements have used accelerometry data to produce clinically meaningful information for clinicians, patients, family and care givers. Despite this, widespread uptake in research and clinical environments remains limited. If uptake was enhanced, we could build a deeper understanding of how people with stroke use their arm in real-world environments. In order to facilitate greater uptake, however, there is a need for greater consistency in protocol development, accelerometer application and data interpretation.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Catherine E. Lang, PhD, Program in Physical Therapy, Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, 4444 Forest Park, Campus Box 8502, St Louis, MO 63108, USA. E-mail: Phone: +1 (314) 286-1945.


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