Variability of Total Step Activity in Children With Cerebral Palsy: Influence of Definition of a Day on Participant Retention Within the Study
Background: Activity monitoring is important to establish accurate daily physical activity levels in children with cerebral palsy (CP). However, few studies address issues around inclusion or exclusion of step count data; in particular, how a valid day should be defined and what impact different lengths of monitoring have on retention of participant data within a study. This study assessed how different 'valid day' definitions influenced inclusion of participant data in final analyses and the subsequent variability of the data. Results: Sixty-nine children with CP were fitted with a StepWatch™ Activity Monitor and instructed to wear it for a week. Data analysis used two broad definitions of a day, based on either number of steps in a 24 h monitoring period or the number of hours of recorded activity in a 24 h monitoring period. Eight children either did not use the monitor, or used it for only 1 day. The remaining 61 children provided 2 valid days of monitoring defined as >100 recorded steps per 24 h period and 55 (90 %) completed 2 valid days of monitoring with ≥10 h recorded activity per 24 h period. Performance variability in daily step count was lower across 2 days of monitoring when a valid day was defined as ≥10 h recorded activity per 24 h period (ICC = 0.765) and, higher when the definition >100 recorded steps per 24 h period (ICC = 0.62). Only 46 participants (75 %) completed 5 days of monitoring with >100 recorded steps per 24 h period and only 23 (38 %) achieved 5 days of monitoring with ≥10 h recorded activity per 24 h period. Datasets of participants who functioned at GMFCS level II were differentially excluded when the criteria for inclusion in final analysis was 5 valid days of ≥10 h recorded activity per 24 h period, leaving datasets available for only 8 of 32 participant datasets retained in the study. Conclusion: We conclude that changes in definition of a valid day have significant impacts on both inclusion of participant data in final analysis and measured variability of total step count.