An accelerometry-based system for the assessment of balance and postural sway

Gary Kamen, Carolynn Patten, C. Duke Du, Steven Sison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


The aim of this investigation was to develop an inexpensive, efficient system for the clinical assessment of static and dynamic balance and postural sway using accelerometry-based measurements. Subjects consisted of 10 young (range 18-32 years) and 10 older (range 69-86 years) individuals screened for polypharmacy and history of cardiovascular, neurological or orthopedic health conditions. A lightweight uniaxial accelerometer and general-purpose microcomputer were used to obtain measurements of postural sway. Customized software was written to acquire the data and provide a real-time display consisting of amplitude and frequency characteristics of the sway profile. Intraclass reliability coefficients greater than R = 0.75 were obtained in both eyes-open and challenging-standing balance tasks. Preliminary results demonstrate that the instrumentation can be used to discriminate among balance tasks and to differentiate healthy older adults from those with a tendency toward frequent falls. Moreover, the technique described yields a simple-to-administer, inexpensive procedure that can be conducted in the home or another natural environment. Accelerometry also allows for balance training and re-learning, using tasks that might ordinarily pose a balance challenge for the older or frail adult.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)40-45
Number of pages6
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Accelerometry
  • Aging
  • Balance
  • Postural sway

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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