Technology outcome measures in neuromuscular disorders: A systematic review
Bortolani, S., Brusa, C., Rolle, E., Monforte, M., De Arcangelis, V., Ricci, E., Mongini, T. E., and Tasca, G.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Portable and wearable devices can monitor a number of physical performances and lately have been applied to patients with neuromuscular disorders (NMDs).
METHODS: We performed a systematic search of literature databases following PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) principles, including all studies reporting the use of technological devices for motor function assessment in NMDs from 2000 to 2021. We also summarized the evidence on measurement properties (validity, reliability, responsiveness) of the analyzed technological outcome measures.
RESULTS: One hundred studies fulfilled the selection criteria, most of them published in the past 10 years. We defined four categories that gathered similar technologies: gait analysis tools, for clinical assessment of pace and posture; continuous monitoring of physical activity with inertial sensors, which allow "unsupervised" activity assessment; upper limb evaluation tools, including Kinect-based outcome measures to assess the reachable workspace; and new muscle strength assessment tools, such as Myotools. Inertial sensors have the evident advantage of being applied in the "in-home" setting, which has become especially appealing during the COVID-19 pandemic, although poor evidence from psychometric property assessment and results of the analyzed studies may limit their research application. Both Kinect-based outcome measures and Myotools have already been validated in multicenter studies and different NMDs, showing excellent characteristics for application in clinical trials.
CONCLUSIONS: This overview is intended to raise awareness on the potential of the different technology outcome measures in the neuromuscular field and to be an informative source for the design of future clinical trials, particularly in the era of telemedicine.
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