The Microsoft Kinect has been used in the past to assess spatiotemporal aspects of gait; however the reliability of this system for the assessment of people following stroke has not been established. This study examined the reliability and additional information that the Kinect provides when instrumenting a gait assessment in people living with stroke. The spatiotemporal variables of step length, step length asymmetry, foot swing velocity, foot swing velocity asymmetry, peak and mean gait speed and the percentage difference between the peak and mean gait speed were assessed during gait trials in 30 outpatients more than three months post-stroke and able to stand unsupported. Additional clinical assessments of functional reach (FR), step test (ST), 10 m walk test (10MWT) and the timed up and go (TUG) were performed, along with force platform instrumented assessments of center of pressure path length velocity during double-legged standing balance with eyes closed (DLEC), weight bearing asymmetry (WBA) and dynamic medial-lateral weight-shifting ability (MLWS). These tests were performed on two separate occasions, seven days apart for reliability assessment. Separate adjusted multiple regressions models for predicting scores on the clinical and force platform assessments were created using 1) the easily assessed clinically-derived gait variables 10MWT time and total number of steps; and 2) the Kinect-derived variables which were found to be reliable (ICC > 0.75) and not strongly correlated (Spearman’s ρ 0.80), but many were redundant. The final regression model using Kinect-derived variables was comprised of the asymmetry scores, mean gait velocity, affected limb foot swing velocity and the difference between peak and mean gait velocity. In comparison with the clinically-derived regression model, the Kinect-derived model accounted for >15% more variance on the MLWS, ST and FR tests and scored similarly on all other measures.
The study concluded that instrumenting gait using the Kinect is reliable and provides insight into the dynamic balance capacity of people living with stroke. This system provides a minimally intrusive method of examining potentially important gait characteristics in people living with stroke.