A new proxy measurement algorithm with applications to vertical ground reaction forces with wearable sensors

A proxy measurement is commonly used when direct measures of the outcome are unobservable and/or unavailable. This paper is a typical and successful application of proxy measurement strategy. In this particular application, wearable IMU (Inertia Measurement Unit) sensors were used to measure the accelerations at different body levels. The acceleration signals were used as the proxy variable of vertical ground reaction force (vGRF) during daily activities such as walking, and the dynamical relationship between vGRF and the accelerations was explored. The developed algorithm was then used to estimate vGRF from these acceleration recordings.

The research carried out in this paper has important implications for many applications such as healthcare. Actually, the analysis of ground reaction force is central in many scientific and engineering fields, including biomechanics, medical science, sports science, and robotics. In human biomechanics and humanoid robotics, for example, postural control is critical for understanding balance and locomotion, where the control strategies for bipedal systems heavily rely on the knowledge of the GRF and its point of application, i.e., the centre of pressure (COP). In healthcare, estimating the GRF and joint moments of patients in daily life activities could have a substantial clinical impact by providing assessments of pathological gait, fall detection in the elderly, and biofeedback data for home interventions. This piece of research provides a promising low-cost method for monitoring GRF in real-life settings and introduces a novel generic approach for replacing the direct determination of difficult to measure variables in many applications.

Published in Sensors (2017), 17 (10), pp 2181-2195

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