Objective monitoring of activity and Gait Velocity using wearable accelerometer following lumbar microdiscectomy to detect recurrent disc herniation

Ralph J. Mobbs, Christopher J. Katsinas, Wen Jie Choy, Kaitlin Rooke, Monish Maharaj


We report a case of a 39-year-old male with sciatica who underwent an L5/S1 microdiscectomy with objective physical activity measurements performed preoperatively and continually postoperatively up to 3-month using wireless accelerometer technology linked to the surgical practice; collecting distance travelled, daily step count (DSC) and Gait Velocity (GV). Preoperative, the patient was walking with a GV of 0.97 m/s and a DSC of less than 2,500. After the first month following surgery, the patient had increased mobility, with a GV of 1.58 m/s, and taking an average of over 4,500 steps per day. At day 57 postop, the patient experienced a recurrence of pain with reduction of GV, DSC and walking distance. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was performed and revealed a recurrent disc herniation with further surgery on day 63, with a rapid return of function post 2nd surgery. The use of wireless accelerometers is practical in obtaining objective physical activity measurements before and after lumbar microdiscectomy, and will assist the surgeon and rehabilitation provider to monitor outcomes, complications and assist in clinical decision making.