Young CF Patients Deem Wrist-worn Devices Acceptable for Monitoring Physical Activity, Study Finds

Alberto Molano Ph.D avatar

by Alberto Molano Ph.D |

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Physical activity

Wrist-worn monitoring devices are an acceptable method of objectively tracking the levels of physical activity of children and young people with cystic fibrosis (CF), a study reports.

The study, “A Formative Study Exploring Perceptions of Physical Activity and Physical Activity Monitoring Among Children and Young People with Cystic Fibrosis and Health Care Professionals,” was published in the journal BMC Pediatrics.

Studies have shown that physical activity in CF patients slows the decline in lung function and is associated with fewer hospitalizations. However, despite documented evidence that physical activity is clinically beneficial, an objective assessment of this parameter is rarely or inconsistently performed by healthcare professionals.

Investigators therefore conducted interviews to assess the perceptions of CF patients and healthcare professionals on physical activity and the use of monitoring devices.

The study was conducted at the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences of Liverpool John Moores University in the U.K., and involved nine participants ages 8-16 (five female, mean age 12 years), with a confirmed diagnosis of CF.

Results showed that the level of physical activity among children and young people with CF is comparable to that of people without the disease, with patients engaging in a variety of activities.

“CF was not perceived as a barrier per se, although participants acknowledged that they could be limited by their symptoms,” researchers said.

To assess physical activity and the acceptance of monitoring devices, the team provided patients with different types of devices — the accelerometers GENEActiv (ActivInsights, Cambs, U.K.; used on the wrist), the ActiGraph GT3X+ (ActiGraph, Pensacola, Florida; used on the hip),  the pedometer Yamax Digiwalker (Yamax U.K. and Europe, Tasley U.K.; used on the waist), or one of two trackers, the Fitbit Flex (used on the wrist) or Moves smartphone application (no longer available).

Participants were given instructions on how to wear and use the devices. They wore them for seven consecutive days during waking hours.

Overall, CF participants “reported enjoying wearing the monitoring devices and had good compliance,” the researchers stated.

Among the monitoring devices tested, “wrist-worn devices, which are unobtrusive and can display feedback, were perceived as most acceptable” by patients, the team noted. In contrast, many patients felt that hip-worn devices were uncomfortable.

Participants also had a preference for devices providing feedback.

Healthcare professionals recognized the potential benefits of these types of monitoring devices for patients in clinical practice. They “perceived monitoring devices to be a beneficial addition to routine clinical care,” although they acknowledged that “education for clinicians, patients and families is required.”

The team concluded that monitoring devices “appear to be an acceptable method for objective assessment of [physical activity] among children and young people with CF and their clinicians.”

The team believes that by understanding the factors affecting physical activity, “CF health professionals will be better placed to support patients and improve health outcomes.”

Researchers also emphasized that interventions to promote physical activity in this patient population should be individualized and involve the patients’ families as part of an active lifestyle.