A Review of the Accuracy and Utility of Motion Sensors to Measure Physical Activity of Frail, Older Hospitalized Patients

J Aging Phys Act. 2016 Jul;24(3):465-75. doi: 10.1123/japa.2014-0190. Epub 2015 Nov 19.


The purpose of this review was to examine the utility and accuracy of commercially available motion sensors to measure step-count and time spent upright in frail older hospitalized patients. A database search (CINAHL and PubMed, 2004-2014) and a further hand search of papers' references yielded 24 validation studies meeting the inclusion criteria. Fifteen motion sensors (eight pedometers, six accelerometers, and one sensor systems) have been tested in older adults. Only three have been tested in hospital patients, two of which detected postures and postural changes accurately, but none estimated step-count accurately. Only one motion sensor remained accurate at speeds typical of frail older hospitalized patients, but it has yet to be tested in this cohort. Time spent upright can be accurately measured in the hospital, but further validation studies are required to determine which, if any, motion sensor can accurately measure step-count.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Frail Elderly*
  • Hospitalization*
  • Humans
  • Inpatients*
  • Monitoring, Ambulatory / instrumentation*
  • Motion*
  • Posture / physiology