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 journalArticle

87 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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