Inertial Sensors for Kinematic Measurement and Activity Classification of Gait Post-Stroke
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The ability to walk and negotiate stairs is an important predictor of independent ambulation. The superposition of mobility impairments to the effects of natural aging in persons with stroke render the completion of many daily activities unsafe, thus limiting individuals’ independence within their communities. Currently however, no means exist for the monitoring of mobility levels during daily living in survivors after the completion of rehabilitation programs. The application of inertial sensors for stroke survivors could provide a basis for the study of gait outside of traditional laboratory settings. The main objective of this thesis was to evaluate the performance of inertial sensors in measuring gait of hemiparetic stroke survivors through the completion of three studies. The first study explored the use of inertial measurement units (IMUs) for the measurement of lower limb joint kinematics during stair ascent and descent in both stroke survivors and healthy older adults. Results suggested that IMUs were suitable for the measurement of lower limb range of motion in both healthy and post-stroke subjects during stair ambulation. The second study evaluated the measurement of step length and spatial symmetry during overground walking using IMUs. A systematic error resulting in the underestimation of step lengths calculated using IMUs compared with those measured using video analysis was found, however results suggested that IMUs were suitable for the assessment of spatial symmetry between affected and less-affected limbs in stroke survivors. The final study evaluated the automatic classification of gait activities using inertial sensor data. Findings revealed that the use of a classifier composed of frequency-features extracted from IMU accelerometer and gyroscope data from both the affected and less-affected limbs most accurately identified gait activities from post stroke gait data. This thesis provides a first attempt at applying IMUs to the study of gait post-stroke. Future work may extend the findings of these studies to provide a better understanding to rehabilitation professionals of the demands of everyday life for stroke survivors.