Sample Entropy as a Tool to Assess Lumbo-Pelvic Movements in a Clinical Test for Low-Back-Pain Patients

Low back pain (LBP) obviously reduces the quality of life but is also the world’s leading cause of years lived with disability. Alterations in motor response and changes in movement patterns are expected in LBP patients when compared to healthy people. Such changes in dynamics may be assessed by the nonlinear analysis of kinematical time series recorded from one patient’s motion. Since sample entropy (SampEn) has emerged as a relevant index measuring the complexity of a given time series, we propose the development of a clinical test based on SampEn of a time series recorded by a wearable inertial measurement unit for repeated bending and returns (b and r) of the trunk. Twenty-three healthy participants were asked to perform, in random order, 50 repetitions of this movement by touching a stool and another 50 repetitions by touching a box on the floor. The angular amplitude of the b and r movement and the sample entropy of the three components of the angular velocity and acceleration were computed. We showed that the repetitive b and r “touch the stool” test could indeed be the basis of a clinical test for the evaluation of low-back-pain patients, with an optimal duration of 70 s, acceptable in daily clinical practice.