The bulky, expensive gait measuring mat used to assess fall risk in the elderly and patients with neurological conditions might be replaced with a portable, less costly diagnostic developed at the National University of Singapore (NUS). A new wireless sensor integrated with the user’s footwear brings gait analysis out of the clinic with measurements as accurate as those obtained with the gold-standard mat.

The wearable MANA 2.0 sensor combines inertial measurement unit functionality to measure acceleration and rotation rate with ultra-wideband technology, which provides direct measurement of on-body distances. These tracking capabilities enable MANA 2.0 to produce the clinical gait metrics, including step width and spatial foot placement, that can currently only be measured using the mat. Data from the four footwear-embedded sensors are transmitted to a mobile application.

MANA 2.0 captures raw data in real-time for gait analysis. Measurements sent to the user’s smartphone include step width and acceleration and rotation in the left and right heel during movement. Source: NUSMANA 2.0 captures raw data in real-time for gait analysis. Measurements sent to the user’s smartphone include step width and acceleration and rotation in the left and right heel during movement. Source: NUS“There is huge value in developing a portable version of the gait analysis mat as this will empower patients to make their own gait measurements anytime and anywhere without requiring the physical supervision of a clinician. A MANA 2.0 enabled wearable for gait analysis will also allow clinicians to monitor the progress of their patients remotely through the data collected on the mobile application. With the growing demand for healthcare services, such a portable technology reduces the need for physical space and manpower in the clinics while making gait assessments more efficient at the same time,” said Dr. Boyd Anderson, a lecturer at NUS, who worked on the development of MANA 2.0.

Analysis of a dataset of over 2,000 steps across 21 healthy individuals demonstrated a 97% accuracy for step width measurements recorded by the MANA 2.0. A 95% to 97% accuracy for spatial foot placement measurements when compared to the measurements made by the gold-standard mat was also observed.

To contact the author of this article, email shimmelstein@globalspec.com