Instrumentally assessed gait quality is more relevant than gait endurance and velocity to explain patient-reported walking ability in early-stage multiple sclerosis

Ilaria Carpinella, Elisa Gervasoni, Denise Anastasi, Rachele Di Giovanni, Andrea Tacchino, Giampaolo Brichetto, Paolo Confalonieri, Marco Rovaris, Claudio Solaro, Maurizio Ferrarin, Davide Cattaneo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and purpose: People with multiple sclerosis (PwMS) often report walking limitations even when the gold standard Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) indicates normal walking endurance/autonomy. The present multicenter study on early-stage PwMS aims at analyzing which aspects are associated with patient-reported walking limitations measured with the 12-item Multiple Sclerosis Walking Scale (MSWS-12). Methods: Eighty-two PwMS (EDSS ≤ 2.5) were assessed using the Fullerton Advanced Balance Scale—short (FAB-s), the Fatigue Severity Scale (FSS) and the 6-min Walk Test (6MWT), the latter administered also to 21 healthy subjects. Participants performed the 6MWT wearing three inertial sensors on ankles and trunk. Instrumented metrics describing gait velocity (stride length and frequency) and quality (regularity, symmetry, instability) were computed from sensor data. Fatigue (FSS), balance (FAB-s), walking endurance (6MWT) and instrumented metrics were entered in a multiple regression model with MSWS-12 as dependent variable. Results: Gait symmetry, gait instability, fatigue and balance were significantly associated with self-rated walking ability, whilst walking endurance and velocity were not. Fatigue, balance, gait symmetry and instability were more impaired in participants reporting mild-to-moderate (MSMM-PWL, 25 ≤ MSWS-12 < 75) compared to those reporting none-to-minimal (MSnm-PWL, 0 ≤ MSWS-12 ≤ 25) perceived walking limitations. Compared to healthy subjects, gait symmetry and stability were reduced in MSnm-PWL and MSMM-PWL, even in those participants with EDSS ≤ 1.5. Conclusion: Instrumentally assessed gait quality aspects (symmetry and instability) are associated with patient-reported walking ability in early-stage PwMS and seem sensitive biomarkers to detect subtle impairments even in the earliest stages of the disease (EDSS ≤ 1.5). Future studies should assess their ability to follow walking change due to MS progression or pharmacological/rehabilitation interventions.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Neurology
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Apr 2021


  • gait quality
  • instrumented walking assessment
  • multiple sclerosis
  • patient-reported outcome
  • rehabilitation assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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