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Review
, 51, 239-246

25 Years of Lower Limb Joint Kinematics by Using Inertial and Magnetic Sensors: A Review of Methodological Approaches

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Review

25 Years of Lower Limb Joint Kinematics by Using Inertial and Magnetic Sensors: A Review of Methodological Approaches

Pietro Picerno. Gait Posture.

Abstract

Joint kinematics is typically limited to the laboratory environment, and the restricted volume of capture may vitiate the execution of the motor tasks under analysis. Conversely, clinicians often require the analysis of motor acts in non-standard environments and for long periods of time, such as in ambulatory settings or during daily life activities. The miniaturisation of motion sensors and electronic components, generally associated with wireless communications technology, has opened up a new perspective: movement analysis can be carried out outside the laboratory and at a relatively lower cost. Wearable inertial measurement units (embedding 3D accelerometers and gyroscopes), eventually associated with magnetometers, allow one to estimate segment orientation and joint angular kinematics by exploiting the laws governing the motion of a rotating rigid body. The first study which formalised the problem of the estimate of joint kinematics using inertial sensors dates back to 1990. Since then, a variety of methods have been presented over the past 25 years for the estimate of 2D and 3D joint kinematics by using inertial and magnetic sensors. The aim of the present review is to describe these approaches from a purely methodological point of view to provide the reader with a comprehensive understanding of all the instrumental, computational and methodological issues related to the estimate of joint kinematics when using such sensor technology.

Keywords: Accelerometers; Gyroscopes; Joint kinematics; Methodological approach; Wearable inertial sensors.

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