Instrumented shoes for daily activity monitoring in healthy and at risk populations

Daily activity reflects the health status of an individual. Ageing and disease drastically affect all dimensions of mobility, from the number of active bouts to their duration and intensity. Performing less activity leads to muscle deterioration and further weakness that could lead to increased fall risk. Gait performance is also affected by ageing and could be detrimental for daily mobility. Therefore, activity monitoring in older adults and at risk persons is crucial to obtain relevant quantitative information about daily life performance. Activity evaluation has mainly been established through questionnaires or daily logs. These methods are simple but not sufficiently accurate and are prone to errors. With the advent of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), the availability of wearable sensors has shifted activity analysis towards ambulatory monitoring. In particular, inertial measurement units consisting of accelerometers and gyroscopes have shown to be extremely relevant for characterizing human movement. However, monitoring daily activity requires comfortable and easy to use systems that are strategically placed on the body or integrated in clothing to avoid movement hindrance. Several research based systems have employed multiple sensors placed at different locations, capable of recognizing activity types with high accuracy, but not comfortable for daily use. Single sensor systems have also been used but revealed inaccuracies in activity recognition. To this end, we propose an instrumented shoe system consisting of an inertial measurement unit and a pressure sensing insole with all the sensors placed at the shoe/foot level. By measuring the foot movement and loading, the recognition of locomotion and load bearing activities would be appropriate for activity classification. Furthermore, inertial measurement units placed on the foot can perform detailed gait analysis, providing the possibility of characterizing locomotion. The system and dedicated activity classification algorithms were first designed, tested and validated during the first part of the thesis. Their application to clinical rehabilitation of at risk persons was demonstrated over the second part. In the first part of the thesis, the designed instrumented shoes system was tested in standardized conditions with healthy elderly subjects performing a sequence of structured activities. An algorithm based on movement biomechanics was built to identify each activity, namely sitting, standing, level walking, stairs, ramps, and elevators. The rich array of sensors present in the system included a 3D accelerometer, 3D gyroscope, 8 force sensors, and a barometer allowing the algorithm to reach a high accuracy in classifying different activity types. The tuning parameters of the algorithm were shown to be robust to small changes, demonstrating the suitability of the algorithm to activity classification in older adults. Next, the system was tested in daily life conditions on the same elderly participants. Using a wearable reference system, the concurrent validity of the instrumented shoes in classifying daily activity was shown. Additionally, daily gait metrics were obtained and compared to the literature. Further insight into the relationship between some gait parameters as well as a global activity metric, the activity “complexity”, was discussed. Participants positively rated their comfort while using the system... (Please refer to thesis for full abstract)


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