Evaluating physical function and activity in the elderly patient using wearable motion sensors

Bernd Grimm*, Stijn Bolink

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


Wearable sensors, in particular inertial measurement units (IMUs) allow the objective, valid, discriminative and responsive assessment of physical function during functional tests such as gait, stair climbing or sit-to-stand. Applied to various body segments, precise capture of time-to-task achievement, spatiotemporal gait and kinematic parameters of demanding tests or specific to an affected limb are the most used measures. In activity monitoring (AM), accelerometry has mainly been used to derive energy expenditure or general health related parameters such as total step counts. In orthopaedics and the elderly, counting specific events such as stairs or high intensity activities were clinimetrically most powerful; as were qualitative parameters at the 'micro-level' of activity such as step frequency or sit-stand duration. Low cost and ease of use allow routine clinical application but with many options for sensors, algorithms, test and parameter definitions, choice and comparability remain difficult, calling for consensus or standardisation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)112-120
Number of pages9
JournalEFORT Open Reviews
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Accelerometry
  • Activity monitoring
  • Gait analysis
  • Outcome assessment
  • Physical function
  • Wearable sensors


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