Evaluation of the Microsoft Kinect as a clinical assessment tool of body sway
Total body center of mass (TBCM) is a useful kinematic measurement of body sway. However, expensive equipment and high technical requirement limit the use of motion capture systems in large-scale clinical settings. Center of pressure (CP) measurement obtained from force plates cannot accurately represent TBCM during large body sway movement. Microsoft Kinect is a rapidly developing, inexpensive, and portable posturographic device, which provides objective and quantitative measurement of TBCM sway. The purpose of this study was to evaluate Kinect as a clinical assessment tool for TBCM sway measurement. The performance of the Kinect system was compared with a Vicon motion capture system and a force plate. Ten healthy male subjects performed four upright quiet standing tasks: (1) eyes open (EOn), (2) eyes closed (ECn), (3) eyes open standing on foam (EOf), and (4) eyes closed standing on foam (ECf). Our results revealed that the Kinect system produced highly correlated measurement of TBCM sway (mean RMSE = 4.38 mm; mean CORR = 0.94 in Kinect-Vicon comparison), as well as comparable intra-session reliability to Vicon. However, the Kinect device consistently overestimated the 95% CL of sway by about 3 mm. This offset could be due to the limited accuracy, resolution, and sensitivity of the Kinect sensors. The Kinect device was more accurate in the medial-lateral than in the anterior-posterior direction, and performed better than the force plate in more challenging balance tasks, such as (ECf) with larger TBCM sway. Overall, Kinect is a cost-effective alternative to a motion capture and force plate system for clinical assessment of TBCM sway.