Postural strategies assessed with inertial sensors in healthy and parkinsonian subjects

Gait Posture. 2014;40(1):70-5. doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2014.02.012. Epub 2014 Mar 2.


The present study introduces a novel instrumented method to characterize postural movement strategies to maintain balance during stance (ankle and hip strategy), by means of inertial sensors, positioned on the legs and on the trunk. We evaluated postural strategies in subjects with 2 types of Parkinsonism: idiopathic Parkinson's disease (PD) and Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP), and in age-matched control subjects standing under perturbed conditions implemented by the Sensory Organization Test (SOT). Coordination between the upper and lower segments of the body during postural sway was measured using a covariance index over time, by a sliding-window algorithm. Afterwards, a postural strategy index was computed. We also measured the amount of postural sway, as adjunctive information to characterize balance, by the root mean square of the horizontal trunk acceleration signal (RMS).

Results: showed that control subjects were able to change their postural strategy, whilst PSP and PD subjects persisted in use of an ankle strategy in all conditions. PD subjects had RMS values similar to control subjects even without changing postural strategy appropriately, whereas PSP subjects showed much larger RMS values than controls, resulting in several falls during the most challenging SOT conditions (5 and 6). Results are in accordance with the corresponding clinical literature describing postural behavior in the same kind of subjects. The proposed strategy index, based on the use of inertial sensors on the upper and lower body segments, is a promising and unobtrusive tool to characterize postural strategies performed to attain balance.

Keywords: Covariance analysis; Dynamic posture; Parkinson's disease; Progressive Supranuclear Palsy; Sensory Organization Test.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acceleration
  • Accelerometry / instrumentation
  • Aged
  • Ankle / physiopathology
  • Ataxia / diagnosis*
  • Ataxia / etiology
  • Ataxia / physiopathology*
  • Feedback, Sensory / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Biological
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / instrumentation
  • Movement / physiology
  • Parkinson Disease / complications
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology*
  • Postural Balance / physiology*
  • Sensation Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Sensation Disorders / etiology
  • Sensation Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Supranuclear Palsy, Progressive / complications
  • Supranuclear Palsy, Progressive / physiopathology*
  • Torso / physiopathology