Frailty status can be accurately assessed using inertial sensors and the TUG test

Age Ageing. 2014 May;43(3):406-11. doi: 10.1093/ageing/aft176. Epub 2013 Nov 7.


Background: frailty is an important geriatric syndrome linked to increased mortality, morbidity and falls risk.

Methods: a total of 399 community-dwelling older adults were assessed using Fried's frailty phenotype and the timed up and go (TUG) test. Tests were quantified using shank-mounted inertial sensors. We report a regression-based method for assessment of frailty using inertial sensor data obtained during TUG. For comparison, frailty was also assessed using the same method based on grip strength and manual TUG time.

Results: using inertial sensor data, participants were classified as frail or non-frail with mean accuracy of 75.20% (stratified by gender). Using TUG time alone, frailty status was classified correctly with mean classification accuracy of 71.82%. Similarly, using grip strength alone, the frailty status was classified correctly with mean classification accuracy of 77.65%. Stratifying sensor data by gender yielded significantly (p<0.05) increased accuracy in classifying frailty when compared with equivalent manual TUG time-based models.

Conclusion: results suggest that a simple protocol involving assessment using a well-known mobility test (Timed Up and Go (TUG)) and inertial sensors can be a fast and effective means of automatic, non-expert assessment of frailty.

Keywords: TUG; community dwelling older adults; frailty; inertial sensor; mobility; older people.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Clinical Alarms / standards*
  • Disability Evaluation*
  • Female
  • Frail Elderly
  • Gait
  • Geriatric Assessment / methods
  • Hand Strength
  • Health Status Disparities
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mobility Limitation*
  • Postural Balance
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Risk Factors
  • Time and Motion Studies*