The way you walk can reveal current and future health problems.
New research from Halmstad University suggests the use of wearable sensors for analysing your movement.
This can potentially result in early detection of for example Parkinson’s disease, dementia, multiple sclerosis and other neuro-physiological disorders.
Many of our body systems, such as the cardio-vascular system and the neuro-physiological system, intimately collaborate to help us move.
If one of these systems is affected by an illness, it will be reflected in the way you walk. The manner of walking or running is called gait and is typically analysed in specific gaitclinics.
Healthy gait requires a balance between various neuro-physiological systems and is considered an important indicator of a subject’s physical and cognitive health status.
As such, health-related applications would immensely benefit by performing long-term or continuous monitoring of subjects’ gait in their natural environment and everyday lives.
In contrast to stationary sensors such as motion capture systems and force plates, inertial sensors provide a good alternative for such gait analysis applications as they are miniature, cheap, mobile and can be easily integrated into wearable systems.
In a recently published thesis, Siddhartha Khandelwal from the School of Information Technology at Halmstad University, proposes a solution on how a person’s gait can be measured outside of these controlled labs.
Gait analysis is a critical component of assessing neuro-physiological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, patients undergoing rehab or athletes with leg injuries.
However, the analysis is currently performed under strictly controlled conditions and protocols.
The results of this new research are a step in the direction of providing the benefits of gait analysis to patients in their daily lives; thereby increasing the amount of information that is available for creating better support systems and plans for rehabilitation.
Siddhartha Khandelwalresearch focuses on detecting gait events from wearable sensors on different parts of the body.
This can be done in a home environment, by the patients themselves.
The sensor data are translated to a uniquepattern that shows the quality of the movement by comparing it with a ’normal walking’ template.
His continuous collection of information in a real-life setting is unique and can hopefully help patients, physiotherapists and doctors with a better and more informed rehabilitation process.
Researchers have tested the system on very dynamic conditions, such as different walking and running speeds, surfaces and inclinations, and it showed excellent accuracy in detecting gait events.
This proves that it is ready for use in real-world applications, says Siddhartha Khandelwal, who will continue developing the system into a product at business incubator High Five in Halmstad.
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This post is also available in: Italian