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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2015 Open Access

BMC Ear, Nose and Throat Disorders 1/2015

Discriminant validity and test re-test reproducibility of a gait assessment in patients with vestibular dysfunction

BMC Ear, Nose and Throat Disorders > Ausgabe 1/2015
Annatina Schmidheiny, Jaap Swanenburg, Dominik Straumann, Eling D. de Bruin, Ruud H. Knols
Wichtige Hinweise

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests. All authors had full access to all data of the study and take responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analyses.

Authors’ contributions

AS designed the study and drafted the first version of the manuscript. All authors (AS, JS, DS, EDdB, RHK) contributed to the design and preparation of the study protocol, assessed the methodological quality of the study and critically revised the manuscript for important intellectual content. AS and JS performed the statistical analyses. DS initiated the study and reviewed and revised the manuscript critically for its content. RHK supervised, reviewed and revised the study and the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.



Gait function may be impaired in patients with vestibular disorders, making gait assessment in the clinical setting relevant for this patient population. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the discriminant validity of a gait assessment protocol between patients with vestibular disorders and healthy participants. Furthermore, test re-test reproducibility and the measurement error of gait performance measures in patients with vestibular lesions was performed under different walking conditions.


Gait parameters of thirty-five patients with vestibular disorders and twenty-seven healthy controls were assessed twice with the GAITRite® system. Discriminant validity, reproducibility (intra class correlation [ICC]) and the measurement error (standard error of measurement [SEM], smallest detectable change [SDC]) were determined for gait speed, cadence and step length. Bland-Altman plots were made to assess systematic bias between tests.


A significant effect of grouping on gait performance indicates discriminant validity of gait assessment. All tests revealed differences between patients and healthy controls (p < 0.01). The ICCs for test re-test reproducibility were excellent (0.70-0.96) and measurement error showed acceptable SDC values for gait parameters derived from three walking conditions (9-19 %). Bland-Altman plots indicated no systematic bias.


Good validity and reproducibility of GAITRite® system measurements suggest that this system could facilitate the study of gait in patients with vestibular disorders in clinical settings. The SDC values for gait are generally small enough to detect changes after a rehabilitation program for patients with vestibular disorders.
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