U-turn speed is a valid and reliable smartphone-based measure of multiple sclerosis-related gait and balance impairment

Wei Yi Cheng, Alan K. Bourke, Florian Lipsmeier, Corrado Bernasconi, Shibeshih Belachew, Christian Gossens*, Jennifer S. Graves, Xavier Montalban, Michael Lindemann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Background: People living with multiple sclerosis (MS) experience impairments in gait and mobility, that are not fully captured with manually timed walking tests or rating scales administered during periodic clinical visits. We have developed a smartphone-based assessment of ambulation performance, the 5 U-Turn Test (5UTT), a quantitative self-administered test of U-turn ability while walking, for people with MS (PwMS). Research question: What is the test-retest reliability and concurrent validity of U-turn speed, an unsupervised self-assessment of gait and balance impairment, measured using a body-worn smartphone during the 5UTT? Methods: 76 PwMS and 25 healthy controls (HCs) participated in a cross-sectional non-randomised interventional feasibility study. The 5UTT was self-administered daily and the median U-turn speed, measured during a 14-day session, was compared against existing validated in-clinic measures of MS-related disability. Results: U-turn speed, measured during a 14-day session from the 5UTT, demonstrated good-to-excellent test-retest reliability in PwMS alone and combined with HCs (intraclass correlation coefficient [ICC] = 0.87 [95 % CI: 0.80–0.92]) and moderate-to-excellent reliability in HCs alone (ICC = 0.88 [95 % CI: 0.69–0.96]). U-turn speed was significantly correlated with in-clinic measures of walking speed, physical fatigue, ambulation impairment, overall MS-related disability and patients’ self-perception of quality of life, at baseline, Week 12 and Week 24. The minimal detectable change of the U-turn speed from the 5UTT was low (19.42 %) in PwMS and indicates a good precision of this measurement tool when compared with conventional in-clinic measures of walking performance. Significance: The frequent self-assessment of turn speed, as an outcome measure from a smartphone-based U-turn test, may represent an ecologically valid digital solution to remotely and reliably monitor gait and balance impairment in a home environment during MS clinical trials and practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120-126
Number of pages7
JournalGait and Posture
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • Accelerometer
  • Consumer wearable technology
  • Digital health
  • Gait and balance impairment
  • Gyroscope
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Smartphone
  • Turn speed
  • Turning while walking


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