Kinematic biomarkers of chronic neck pain measured during gait: A data-driven classification approach

David Jiménez-Grande, S. Farokh Atashzar, Eduardo Martinez-Valdes, Alessandro Marco De Nunzio, Deborah Falla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


People with chronic neck pain (CNP) often present with altered gait kinematics. This paper investigates, combines, and compares the kinematic features from linear and nonlinear walking trajectories to design supervised machine learning models which differentiate asymptomatic individuals from those with CNP. For this, 126 features were extracted from seven body segments of 20 asymptomatic subjects and 20 individuals with non-specific CNP. Neighbourhood Component Analysis (NCA) was used to identify body segments and the corresponding significant features which have the maximum discriminative power for conducting classification. We assessed the efficacy of NCA combined with K- Nearest Neighbour (K-NN), Support Vector Machine and Linear Discriminant Analysis. By applying NCA, all classifiers increased their performance for both linear and nonlinear walking trajectories. Notably, features selected by NCA which magnify the classification power of the computational model were solely from the head, trunk and pelvis kinematics. Our results revealed that the nonlinear trajectory provides the best classification performance through the NCA-K-NN algorithms with an accuracy of 90%, specificity of 100% and sensitivity of 83.3%. The selected features by NCA are introduced as key biomarkers of gait kinematics for classifying non-specific CNP. This paper provides insight into changes in gait kinematics which are present in people with non-specific CNP which can be exploited for classification purposes. The result highlights the importance of curvilinear gait kinematic features which potentially could be utilized in future research to predict recurrent episodes of neck pain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number110190
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
StatePublished - Mar 30 2021


  • Biomarkers
  • Chronic neck pain
  • Gait kinematics
  • Machine learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Rehabilitation


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