Research Study Abstract

Observational Study of a Wearable Sensor and Smartphone Application Supporting Unsupervised Exercises to Assess Pain and Stiffness

  • Published on Sept. 2018

Background: Evaluation of pain and stiffness in patients with arthritis is largely based on participants retrospectively reporting their self-perceived pain/stiffness. This is subjective and may not accurately reflect the true impact of therapeutic interventions. We now have access to sensor-based systems to continuously capture objective information regarding movement and activity.

Objectives: We present an observational study aimed to collect sensor data from participants monitored while performing an unsupervised version of a standard motor task, known as the Five Times Sit to Stand (5×STS) test. The first objective was to explore whether the participants would perform the test regularly in their home environment, and do so in a correct and consistent manner. The second objective was to demonstrate that the measurements collected would enable us to derive an objective signal related to morning pain and stiffness.

Methods: We recruited a total of 45 participants, of whom 30 participants fulfilled pre-defined criteria for osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or psoriatic arthritis and 15 participants were healthy volunteers. All participants wore accelerometers (ActiGraph GT9X Link) on their wrists, day and night for about 4 weeks. The participants were asked to perform the 5×STS test in their own home environment at the same time in the morning 3 times per week. We investigated the relationship between pain/stiffness and measurements collected during the 5×STS test by comparing the 5×STS test duration with the patient-reported outcome (PRO) questionnaires, filled in via a smartphone.

Results: During the study, we successfully captured accelerometer data from each participant for a period of 4 weeks. The participants performed 56% of the prescribed 5×STS tests. We observed that different tests made by the same participants were performed with subject-specific characteristics that remained consistent throughout the study. We showed that 5×STS test duration (the time taken to complete the 5×STS test) was significantly and robustly associated with the pain and stiffness intensity reported via the PROs, particularly the questions asked in the morning.

Conclusions: This study demonstrates the feasibility and usefulness of regular, sensor-based, monitored, unsupervised physical tests to objectively assess the impact of disease on function in the home environment. This approach may permit remote disease monitoring in clinical trials and support the development of novel endpoints from passively collected actigraphy data.


  • Perraudin C.G.M 1
  • Illiano V.P. 1
  • Calvo F. 1
  • O’Hare E. 1
  • Donnelly S.C. 2
  • Mullan R.H. 2
  • Sander O. 1
  • Caulfield B. 3
  • Dorn J.F. 1


  • 1

    Digital Development, Novartis Pharma AG, Basel, Switzerland

  • 2

    Tallaght Hospital, Trinity College Dublin, Tallaght, Ireland

  • 3

    University College Dublin, Belfield, Ireland


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