Classification of gait quality for biofeedback to improve heel-to-toe gait

Annu Int Conf IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 2014;2014:3626-9. doi: 10.1109/EMBC.2014.6944408.


A feature of healthy gait is a clearly defined heel strike upon initial contact of the foot with the ground. However, a common consequence of ageing is deterioration of the heel first nature of gait towards a shuffling gait (flat foot at contact). Physiotherapy can be effective in correcting this but is costly and labour intensive. Gait rehabilitation could be accelerated with home exercise, guided by a biofeedback device that distinguishes between heel first and shuffling gait. This paper describes an algorithm that distinguishes between heel-to-toe gait and shuffling gait on the basis of angular velocity of the foot, using an inertial measurement unit. Measurements were made of normal and abnormal gait and used to develop an algorithm that distinguishes between good and bad steps. Results demonstrate very good algorithm performance, with a classification accuracy at the accuracy-optimal threshold of 92.7% when compared with physiotherapist labels. The sensitivity and specificity at this threshold are 84.4% and 97.5% respectively. These performance metrics suggest that this algorithm is usable in a biofeedback device.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accelerometry / instrumentation*
  • Adult
  • Algorithms
  • Female
  • Gait / physiology*
  • Gait Disorders, Neurologic / diagnosis
  • Gait Disorders, Neurologic / physiopathology
  • Heel / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Toes / physiology*