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Prediction of foot clearance parameters as a precursor to forecasting the risk of tripping and falling

Lai, Daniel, Taylor, Simon and Begg, Rezaul (2012) Prediction of foot clearance parameters as a precursor to forecasting the risk of tripping and falling. Human Movement Science, 31 (2). pp. 271-283. ISSN 0167-9457 (print) 1872-7646 (online)

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Abstract

Tripping and falling is a serious health problem for older citizens due to the high medical costs incurred and the high mortality rates precipitated mostly by hip fractures that do not heal well. Current falls prevention technology encompasses a broad range of interventions; both passive (e.g., safer environments, hip protectors) and active (e.g., sensor-based fall detectors) which attempt to reduce the effects of tripping and falling. However the majority of these interventions minimizes the impact of falls and do not directly reduce the risk of falling. This paper investigates the prediction of gait parameters related to foot-to-ground clearance height during the leg swing phase which have been physically associated with tripping and falling risk in the elderly. The objective is to predict parameters of foot trajectory several walking cycles in advance so that anticipated low foot clearance could be addressed early with more volitional countermeasures, e.g., slowing down or stopping. In this primer study, foot kinematics was recorded with a highly accurate motion capture system for 10 healthy adults (25–32 years) and 11 older adults (65–82 years) with a history of falls who each performed treadmill walking for at least 10 min. Vertical foot displacement during the swing phase has three characteristic inflection points and we used these peak values and their normalized time as the target prediction values. These target variables were paired with features extracted from the corresponding foot acceleration signal (obtained through double differentiation). A generalized regression neural network (GRNN) was used to independently predict the gait variables over a prediction horizon (number of gait cycles ahead) of 1–10 gait cycles. It was found that the GRNN attained 0.32–1.10 cm prediction errors in the peak variables and 2–8% errors in the prediction of normalized peak times, with slightly better accuracies in the healthy group compared to elderly fallers. Prediction accuracy decreased linearly (best fit) at a slow rate with increasing prediction horizon ranging from 0.03 to 0.11 cm per step for peak displacement variables and 0.34 × 10−3–1.81 × 10−3% per step for normalized peak time variables. Further time series analysis of the target gait variable revealed high autocorrelations in the faller group indicating the presence of cyclic patterns in elderly walking strategies compared to almost random walking patterns in the healthy group. The results are promising because the technique can be extended to portable sensor-based devices which measure foot accelerations to predict the onset of risky foot clearance, thus leading to a more effective falls prevention technology.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: ResPubID20270, falls, aging, prevention, gait analysis, time series prediction
Subjects: Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living (ISEAL)
FOR Classification > 0903 Biomedical Engineering
SEO Classification > 970111 Expanding Knowledge in the Medical and Health Sciences
Depositing User: VUIR
Date Deposited: 28 May 2012 01:13
Last Modified: 21 Mar 2019 00:58
URI: http://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/7228
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.humov.2010.07.009
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Citations in Scopus: 17 - View on Scopus

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