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Medicina dello Sport 2014 December;67(4):617-31


language: English, Italian

Physical activity and assessment of motor performance in elderly and young population by means of wearable inertial sensors

Nerozzi E. 1, Monaco M. M. 1, Pegreffi F. 1, 2, Drago E. 1, Tentoni C. 1

1 School of Pharmacy, Biotechnology and Motor Science, University of Bologna, Italy; 2 Villa Laura, Private Hospital, Bologna, Italy


AIM: The aim of this study was to investigate differences and relation in motor performance between groups of elderly and young people when performing four functional tests in a public place. A wearable inertial sensor was connected to a smartphone that has been used for assessing subjects’ motor performance.
METHODS: A sensor connected to a smartphone via Bluetooth has been used for assessing subjects’ motor performance. Forty-six elderly (ES; 42 females; age: 70±9) and 12 young (YS; 4 females; age: 29±4) have been recruited for this study. Subjects were asked to perform four tests: quiet standing (QS), Timed Up and Go (TUG), 10 Meters Walking (10MW), and Stair Climbing (SC).
RESULTS: QS: ES show higher sway velocity and sway path, and greater sway area in both anterior-posterior (AP) and medio-lateral (ML) direction with respect to YS. TUG: the total duration of the test is lower in YS compared with ES, gait speed and turning duration are also lower in YS. 10MW: mean cadence (MC), does not differ significantly between YS and ES. Normalized Jerk Score in AP and ML direction (NJS AP and NJS ML) do not differ significantly between YS and ES. AP and ML step regularity (Ad1 AP and Ad1 ML) are significantly lower in ES. SC: ES significantly reduce their cadence in SC respect to YS. In both groups, MC in SC is significantly correlated with MC measured during 10MW.
DISCUSSION: MC does not differ significantly between YS and ES in 10MW, it is significantly different in SC. Cadence variations in elderly in SC, may be associated both to biomechanical characteristics and motor control aspects.
CONCLUSION: Results are coherent with the expected and observed motor performance and many parameters are sensitive to age-related motor changes. These findings support the idea that useful screening tools could be based on wearable inertial sensors and modern smartphones.

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