The usefulness of activity trackers in elderly with reduced mobility: a case study

Stud Health Technol Inform. 2013:192:759-62.


This study was conducted to determine the accuracy and usefulness of two current commercially available activity trackers in rollator dependent elderly with reduced mobility (RME), compared with elderly with normal mobility (NME) and healthy adults (HA).

Methods: Accuracy of pedometers placed at hip (Fitbit Ultra and Samsung GT-I9300 mobile phone) and wrist (Fitbit Ultra) were evaluated against actual steps (video) in RME (n=5), NME (n=7) and HA (n=6). Walk speed, Tinetti gait score and device percent error was calculated and analyzed in SPSS using Kruskal-Wallis, Mann-Whitney U and correlation tests.

Results: NME and HA walked significantly faster (p = 0.001) than RME, had significantly higher gait score (p < 0.05). Gait scores were correlated with walking speed and negatively with pedometer percent error (p < 0.01). Estimation error in RME were >60% at all device locations

Conclusions: Slow walking speed and gait disorders hamper the utility of pedometers for physical activity measurement in rollator dependent elderly, with estimation errors >60%. The tested devices are better suited for use by ostensibly healthy elderly or adult populations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actigraphy / instrumentation*
  • Actigraphy / methods
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Equipment Design
  • Equipment Failure Analysis
  • Female
  • Gait Disorders, Neurologic / diagnosis*
  • Gait Disorders, Neurologic / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mobility Limitation*
  • Monitoring, Ambulatory / instrumentation*
  • Monitoring, Ambulatory / methods
  • Utilization Review*
  • Walking*