Review Article Open Access
Volume 3 | Issue 2 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.33696/rehabilitation.3.022

The Use of Consumer Wearable Physical Activity Monitors in Clinical Populations with Functional L imitations

  • 1Department of Kinesiology, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI 53201-0413, USA
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Corresponding Author

Julian Martinez, marti994@uwm.edu

Received Date: October 01, 2021

Accepted Date: November 16, 2021


Functionally limiting health conditions have a high rate of prevalence worldwide and incur a significant amount of economic burden. Physical activity (PA) can prevent the onset of these conditions and alleviate economic burden by reducing symptoms, but a large portion of these individuals do not engage in health enhancing PA. Consumer wearable physical activity monitors (WPAM) are tools that have become increasingly popular within the past few years and could provide a means to improve PA levels for individuals with health conditions that cause functional limitations. This review reports on the validity of PA outcomes, feasibility and utility, and intervention/promotion effectiveness for consumer WPAM in functionally limited clinical populations. 2250 records from January 2018 to July 2021 were retrieved from PubMed, Web of Science, SPORTDiscus and CINAHL with 656 records being duplicates and 23 records passing a full-text article review. Studies included within the review looked at individuals with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, axial spondyloarthritis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, ischemic stroke and peripheral arterial disease. The most popular brand of consumer WPAM was Fitbit. Validation studies for consumer WPAM were primarily focused on step counts showing overestimations for daily step counts and over- and under-estimations occurring within shorter time durations depending on step cadence. Wrist worn WPAM are the most feasible for functionally limited clinical populations with widespread utilization for associating clinically relevant outcomes with PA levels but they have limited validation to confirm their accuracy and precision in measurement. Interventions included used a mixture of a WPAM and other behavior change techniques to improve PA levels for clinical populations and show promising effectiveness. Future work is warranted on determining the validity of PA outcomes from WPAM determined to be feasible in select clinical populations and creating interventions looking at which features of a consumer WPAM intervention promote PA.


Physical Activity, Activity Monitor, Fitbit, Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Stroke

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