BACKGROUND: Clinical measures in multiple sclerosis (MS) face limitations that may be overcome by utilising smartphone keyboard interactions acquired continuously and remotely during regular typing.
OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to determine the reliability and validity of keystroke dynamics to assess clinical aspects of MS.
METHODS: In total, 102 MS patients and 24 controls were included in this observational study. Keyboard interactions were obtained with the Neurokeys keyboard app. Eight timing-related keystroke features were assessed for reliability with intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs); construct validity by analysing group differences (in fatigue, gadolinium-enhancing lesions on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and patients vs controls); and concurrent validity by correlating with disability measures.
RESULTS: Reliability was moderate in two (ICC = 0.601 and 0.742) and good to excellent in the remaining six features (ICC = 0.760-0.965). Patients had significantly higher keystroke latencies than controls. Latency between key presses correlated the highest with Expanded Disability Status Scale (r = 0.407) and latency between key releases with Nine-Hole Peg Test and Symbol Digit Modalities Test (ρ = 0.503 and r = -0.553, respectively), ps < 0.001.
CONCLUSION: Keystroke dynamics were reliable, distinguished patients and controls, and were associated with clinical disability measures. Consequently, keystroke dynamics are a promising valid surrogate marker for clinical disability in MS.