Differences in walking-to-turning characteristics between older adult fallers and nonfallers: a prospective and observational study using wearable inertial sensors

Ting Ting Yeh, Pei Jung Liang, Shu Chun Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Wearable inertial sensors have gradually been used as an objective technology for biomechanical assessments of both healthy and pathological movement patterns. This paper used foot-worn sensors for characterizing the spatiotemporal characteristics of walking and turning between older fallers and nonfallers. Thirty community-dwelling older fallers and 30 older nonfallers performed 10-m straight walking, turned 180° around a cone, and then walked 10-m back to the starting point. Specific algorithms were used to measure spatiotemporal gait (double support phase of the gait cycle, swing width, and minimal toe clearance) and turning parameters (turn duration and turn steps) using two foot-worn Physiolog inertial sensor system. The researchers directly exported data as reported by the system. Our findings indicated that older fallers showed 26.58% longer time (P = 0.036) and 13.21% more steps (P = 0.038) compared to nonfallers during turning. However, both groups decreased their walking velocity (both P < 0.001), increased double support (both P = 0.001), and increased the swing width (both P = 0.001) during the transition from walking to turning. The older nonfallers additionally increased toe clearance (P = 0.001). Compared with the fallers, the older nonfallers showed a larger change in the swing width (P = 0.025) and toe clearance (P = 0.025) in walking to turning. Older fallers may adopt a cautionary strategy while turning to reduce the risk of falls. Wearable sensors can provide the temporospatial characteristics of turning and reveal significant differences by fall status, indicating the potential of turning measures as possible markers for identifying those at fall risk.

Keywords

  • Accidental Falls
  • Aged
  • Gait
  • Humans
  • Prospective Studies
  • Walking
  • Wearable Electronic Devices
  • falls
  • turning
  • older adults
  • wearable sensors
  • transition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

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