Objective: This study examined 1) the clinical relevance of trunk movement asymmetry, which was evaluated using a trunk-mounted inertial measurement unit (IMU), and 2) the relationship between trunk movement asymmetry and lower limb muscle strength asymmetry in individuals with knee osteoarthritis (OA). Design: One-hundred-thirty-one participants (mean age, 74.2 years; 71.8% female; Kellgren and Lawrence [K&L] grade ≥1) underwent gait analysis at their preferred pace for IMU-based measurement of trunk movement asymmetry (harmonic ratio [HR] and improved HR). The isometric strength of quadriceps and hip abductors was evaluated using a hand-held dynamometer. Pain and disability level were evaluated using a validated self-reported questionnaire. Multiple regression analyses with covariate adjustment were performed to examine the relationship between trunk movement asymmetry (independent variable) and pain, disability level, or muscle strength asymmetry (dependent variables). Results: Individuals with severe knee OA (K&L grade ≥3) had increased trunk movement asymmetry in the medio-lateral axis compared to those with a K&L grade of 1. Increased trunk movement asymmetry was associated with a greater knee pain and disability. The increased trunk movement asymmetry was significantly associated with an increase in the asymmetry of quadriceps strength, but not with asymmetry in the strength of hip abductor. Conclusion: Our findings indicate that increased medio-lateral trunk movement asymmetry may be an indicator of impairment, rather than adaptation, in individuals with knee OA. This preliminary finding warrants validation by future study. Paying close attention to medio-lateral trunk movement asymmetry may be key to our understanding of OA-related pain and disability.
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