Clinical assessment of spinal impairment in Axial Spondyloarthritis is currently performed using the Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Metrological Index (BASMI). Despite being appreciated for its simplicity, the BASMI index lacks sensitivity and specificity of spinal changes, demonstrating poor association with radiographical range of motion (ROM). Inertial measurement units (IMUs) have shown promising results as a cost-effective method to quantitatively examine movement of the human body, however errors due to sensor angular drift have limited their application to a clinical space. Therefore, this article presents a wearable sensor protocol that facilitates unrestrained orientation measurements in space while limiting sensor angular drift through a novel constraint-based approach. Eleven healthy male participants performed five BASMI-inspired functional movements where spinal ROM and continuous kinematics were calculated for five spine segments and four spinal joint levels (lumbar, lower thoracic, upper thoracic and cervical). A Bland-Altman analysis was used to assess the level of agreement on range of motion measurements, whilst intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC), standardised error measurement, and minimum detectable change (MDC) to assess relative and absolute reliability. Continuous kinematics error was investigated through root mean square error (RMSE), maximum absolute error (MAE) and Spearman correlation coefficient (ρ). The overall error in the measurement of continuous kinematic measures was low in both the sagittal (RMSE = 2.1∘), and frontal plane (RMSE = 2.3∘). ROM limits of agreement (LoA) and minimum detectable change were excellent for the sagittal plane (maximum value LoA 1.9∘ and MDC 2.4∘) and fair for lateral flexion (overall value LoA 4.8∘ and MDC 5.7∘). The reliability analysis showed excellent level of agreement (ICC > 0.9) for both segment and joint ROM across all movements. The results from this study demonstrated better or equivalent accuracy than previous studies and were considered acceptable for application in a clinical setting. The protocol has shown to be a valuable tool for the assessment of spinal ROM and kinematics, but a clinical validation study on Axial Spondyloarthritis patients is required for the development and testing of a novel mobility index.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere10623
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by BIRD (Bath Institute of Rheumatic Diseases), The Alumni Fund of the University of Bath, and the RCUK Centre for the Analysis of Motion, Entertainment Research and Application (CAMERA—Grant number: EP/MO23281/1). There was no additional external funding received for this study. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Biomechanics
  • IMU
  • Spine
  • Validation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Rheumatology


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