Reliability of the step phase detection using inertial measurement units: pilot study

The use of inertial sensors for the gait event detection during a long-distance walking, for example, on different surfaces and with different walking patterns, is important to evaluate the human locomotion. Previous studies demonstrated that gyroscopes on the shank or foot are more reliable than accelerometers and magnetometers for the event detection in case of normal walking. However, these studies did not link the events with the temporal parameters used in the clinical practice; furthermore, they did not clearly verify the optimal position for the sensors depending on walking patterns and surface conditions. The event detection quality of the sensors is compared with video, used as ground truth, according to the parameters proposed by the Gait and Clinical Movement Analysis Society. Additionally, the performance of the sensor on the foot is compared with the one on the shank. The comparison is performed considering both normal walking and deviations to the walking pattern, on different ground surfaces and with or without constraints on movements. The preliminary results show that the proposed methodology allows reliable detection of gait events, even in case of abnormal footfall and in slipping surface conditions, and that the optimal location to place the sensors is the shank.