Inertial sensors for assessment of back movement in horses during locomotion over ground



Reasons for performing study: Assessing back movement is an important part of clinical examination in the horse and objective assessment tools allow for evaluating success of treatment.

Objectives: Accuracy and consistency of inertial sensor measurements for quantification of back movement and movement symmetry during over ground locomotion were assessed; sensor measurements were compared to optical motion capture (mocap) and consistency of measurements focusing on movement symmetry was measured.

Methods: Six nonlame horses were trotted in hand with synchronised mocap and inertial sensor data collection (landmarks: T6, T10, T13, L1 and S3). Inertial sensor data were processed using published methods and symmetry of dorsoventral displacement was assessed based on energy ratio, a Fourier based symmetry measure. Limits of agreement were calculated and visualised to compare mocap and sensor data. Consistency of sensor measurements was assessed using Pearson correlation coefficients and linear regression to investigate the effect of speed on movement symmetry.

Results: Dorsoventral and mediolateral sensor displacement was observed to lie within ± 4–5 mm (± 2 s.d., 9–28% of movement amplitude) and energy ratio to lie within ± 0.03 of mocap data. High levels of correlation were found between strides and trials (0.86–1.0) for each horse and each sensor and variability of symmetry was lowest for T13 followed by T10, T6, L1 and S3 with no significant effect of speed at T6, T10 and T13.

Conclusions: Inertial sensor displacement and symmetry data showed acceptable accuracy and good levels of consistency for back movement. The small mediolateral movement amplitude means that changes of <25% in mediolateral amplitude (also unlikely to be detected by visual assessment) may go undetected. New sensor generations with improved sensor sensitivity and ease of use of equipment indicate good potential for use in a field situation.