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Journal Article


Aziz O, Park EJ, Mori G, Robinovitch SN. Gait Posture 2014; 39(1): 506-512.


Injury Prevention and Mobility Laboratory, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, B.C., Canada; School of Engineering Science, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, B.C., Canada. Electronic address:


(Copyright © 2014, Elsevier Publishing)






Falls are the number one cause of injury in older adults. Lack of objective evidence on the cause and circumstances of falls is often a barrier to effective prevention strategies. Previous studies have established the ability of wearable miniature inertial sensors (accelerometers and gyroscopes) to automatically detect falls, for the purpose of delivering medical assistance. In the current study, we extend the applications of this technology, by developing and evaluating the accuracy of wearable sensor systems for determining the cause of falls. Twelve young adults participated in experimental trials involving falls due to seven causes: slips, trips, fainting, and incorrect shifting/transfer of body weight while sitting down, standing up from sitting, reaching and turning. Features (means and variances) of acceleration data acquired from four tri-axial accelerometers during the falling trials were input to a linear discriminant analysis technique. Data from an array of three sensors (left ankle+right ankle+sternum) provided at least 83% sensitivity and 89% specificity in classifying falls due to slips, trips, and incorrect shift of body weight during sitting, reaching and turning. Classification of falls due to fainting and incorrect shift during rising was less successful across all sensor combinations. Furthermore, similar classification accuracy was observed with data from wearable sensors and a video-based motion analysis system. These results establish a basis for the development of sensor-based fall monitoring systems that provide information on the cause and circumstances of falls, to direct fall prevention strategies at a patient or population level.

Language: en


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