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In Frontiers in bioengineering and biotechnology

Background : Movement screens are increasingly used in sport and rehabilitation to evaluate movement competency. However, common screens are often evaluated using subjective visual detection of a priori prescribed discrete movement features (e.g., spine angle at maximum squat depth) and may not account for whole-body movement coordination, or associations between different discrete features.

Objective : To apply pattern recognition and machine learning techniques to identify whole-body movement pattern phenotypes during the performance of exemplar functional movement screening tasks; the deep squat and hurdle step. Additionally, we also aimed to compare how discrete kinematic measures, commonly used to score movement competency, differed between emergent groups identified via pattern recognition and machine learning.

Methods : Principal component analysis (PCA) was applied to 3-dimensional (3D) trajectory data from participant's deep squat (DS) and hurdle step performance, identifying emerging features that describe orthogonal modes of inter-trial variance in the data. A gaussian mixture model (GMM) was fit and used to cluster the principal component scores as an unsupervised machine learning approach to identify emergent movement phenotypes. Between group features were analyzed using a one-way ANOVA to determine if the objective classifications were significantly different from one another.

Results : Three clusters (i.e., phenotypes) emerged for the DS and right hurdle step (RHS) and 4 phenotypes emerged for the left hurdle step (LHS). Selected discrete points commonly used to score DS and hurdle step movements were different between emergent groups. In regard to the select discrete kinematic measures, 4 out of 5, 7 out of 7 and 4 out of 7, demonstrated a main effect (p < 0.05) between phenotypes for the DS, RHS, and LHS respectively.

Conclusion : Findings support that whole-body movement analysis, pattern recognition and machine learning techniques can objectively identify movement behavior phenotypes without the need to a priori prescribe movement features. However, we also highlight important considerations that can influence outcomes when using machine learning for this purpose.

Remedios Sarah M, Armstrong Daniel P, Graham Ryan B, Fischer Steven L


cluster, functional movement screen, gaussian mixture model, movement phenotypes, principal component analysis