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Estimating Upper-Limb Impairment Level in Stroke Survivors Using Wearable Inertial Sensors and a Minimally-Burdensome Motor Task

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Upper-limb paresis is the most common motor impairment post stroke. Current solutions to automate the assessment of upper-limb impairment impose a number of critical burdens on patients and their caregivers that preclude frequent assessment. In this work, we propose an approach to estimate upper-limb impairment in stroke survivors using two wearable inertial sensors, on the wrist and the sternum, and a minimally-burdensome motor task. Twenty-three stroke survivors with no, mild, or moderate upper-limb impairment performed two repetitions of one-to-two minute-long continuous, random (i.e., patternless), voluntary upper-limb movements spanning the entire range of motion. The three-dimensional time-series of upper-limb movements were segmented into a series of one-dimensional submovements by employing a unique movement decomposition technique. An unsupervised clustering algorithm and a supervised regression model were used to estimate Fugl-Meyer Assessment (FMA) scores based on features extracted from these submovements. Our regression model estimated FMA scores with a normalized root mean square error of 18.2% ( ${r}^{{2}}={0.70}$ ) and needed as little as one minute of movement data to yield reasonable estimation performance. These results support the possibility of frequently monitoring stroke survivors’ rehabilitation outcomes, ultimately enabling the development of individually-tailored rehabilitation programs.

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