Research Article: Feasibility of Using Microsoft Kinect to Assess Upper Limb Movement in Type III Spinal Muscular Atrophy Patients

Date Published: January 25, 2017

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Xing Chen, Juliane Siebourg-Polster, Detlef Wolf, Christian Czech, Ulrike Bonati, Dirk Fischer, Omar Khwaja, Martin Strahm, Thomas H Gillingwater.


Although functional rating scales are being used increasingly as primary outcome measures in spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), sensitive and objective assessment of early-stage disease progression and drug efficacy remains challenging. We have developed a game based on the Microsoft Kinect sensor, specifically designed to measure active upper limb movement. An explorative study was conducted to determine the feasibility of this new tool in 18 ambulant SMA type III patients and 19 age- and gender-matched healthy controls. Upper limb movement was analysed elaborately through derived features such as elbow flexion and extension angles, arm lifting angle, velocity and acceleration. No significant differences were found in the active range of motion between ambulant SMA type III patients and controls. Hand velocity was found to be different but further validation is necessary. This study presents an important step in the process of designing and handling digital biomarkers as complementary outcome measures for clinical trials.

Partial Text

Since the introduction of the Microsoft Kinect sensor in 2010 together with its software development kit (SDK), its value as a low cost, portable and marker-free motion capture system has been widely examined. Through its depth sensor and software application programming interface (API), three-dimensional movement is tracked and locations of 20 body points, composing a skeletal model of the user, are output at a frequency up to 30 Hz. Though originally developed for gaming purposes, other fields of application of the Kinect sensor such as gait analysis [1, 2], energy expenditure [3], muscle functions [4, 5] and rehabilitation [6, 7] have been studied. Repeatability, reliability and validity of Kinect’s measurements have been investigated for healthy subjects [8–10] and in different diseases such as stroke [6, 11], Parkinson’s disease [7, 12, 13] and muscle dystrophinopathy [4, 5, 14].

In this study we have demonstrated the applicability of the Microsoft Kinect sensor to address the critical need for more objective and sensitive outcome measures in spinal muscular atrophy. With a specifically designed and user-friendly game, upper limb movement was captured markerlessly through time resolved body point location, which allowed detailed analysis of joint motion limitations.




0 0 vote
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments