Mareike Münch , Robert Weibel , Alexandros Sofios , Haosheng Huang, Denis Infanger , Erja Portegijs , Eleftheria Giannouli, Jonas Mundwiler , Lindsey Conrow , Taina Rantanen , Arno Schmidt-Trucksäss , Andreas Zeller , Timo Hinrichs
BMC Public Health Published: 19 December 2019
Background: Mobility limitations in older adults are associated with poor clinical outcomes including higher mortality and disability rates. A decline in mobility (including physical function and life-space) is detectable and should be discovered as early as possible, as it can still be stabilized or even reversed in early stages by targeted interventions. General practitioners (GPs) would be in the ideal position to monitor the mobility of their older patients. However, easy-to-use and valid instruments for GPs to conduct mobility assessment in the real-life practice setting are missing. Modern technologies such as the global positioning system (GPS) and inertial measurement units (IMUs) – nowadays embedded in every smartphone – could facilitate monitoring of different aspects of mobility in the GP’s practice.
Methods: This project’s aim is to provide GPs with a novel smartphone application that allows them to quantify their older patients’ mobility. The project consists of three parts: development of the GPS- and IMU-based application, evaluation of its validity and reliability (Study 1), and evaluation of its applicability and acceptance (Study 2). In Study 1, participants (target N = 72, aged 65+, ≥2 chronic diseases) will perform a battery of walking tests (varying distances; varying levels of standardization). Besides videotaping and timing (gold standard), a high-end GPS device, a medium-accuracy GPS/IMU logger and three different smartphone models will be used to determine mobility parameters such as gait speed. Furthermore, participants will wear the medium-accuracy GPS/IMU logger and a smartphone for a week to determine their life-space mobility. Participants will be re-assessed after 1 week. In Study 2, participants (target N = 60, aged 65+, ≥2 chronic diseases) will be instructed on how to use the application by themselves. Participants will perform mobility assessments independently at their own homes. Aggregated test results will also be presented to GPs. Acceptance of the application will be assessed among patients and GPs. The application will then be finalized and publicly released.
Discussion: If successful, the MOBITEC-GP application will offer health care providers the opportunity to follow their patients’ mobility over time and to recognize impending needs (e.g. for targeted exercise) within pre-clinical stages of decline.