Validation of open-source step-counting algorithms for wrist-worn tri-axial accelerometers in cardiovascular patients

Gait Posture. 2022 Feb:92:206-211. doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2021.11.035. Epub 2021 Nov 27.


Background: Accurate quantification of daily steps in a cardiovascular patient population is of high importance for primary and secondary prevention. While sensor derived step counts have been sufficiently validated for hip-worn devices and commercial wrist-worn devices, there is a lack of knowledge on validity of freely available step counting algorithms for raw acceleration data collected at the wrist.

Research question: How accurate are step-counting algorithms for wrist worn tri-axial accelerometers in a cardiac rehabilitation training setting?

Methods: Two step counting algorithms (Windowed Peak Detection, Autocorrelation) for tri-axial accelerometers (Axivity AX-3), were tested. Steps were recorded by chest-mounted GoPro video cameras as gold standard. Cardiovascular patients without neurological impairments enrolled in an ambulatory rehabilitation program were recruited. Recordings were performed during one 45-90 min outdoor physical therapy session of which 5-min segments of six movement categories, namely Walking, Running, Nordic, Stairs, Arm Movement [AM] With [+] and Without [-] Walking [W] were identified and analyzed. Mean absolute difference and mean absolute percentage error [MAPE] with regard to true steps measured from video are reported to report accuracy.

Results: Training sessions of 22 patients were recorded and analyzed. Steps were overestimated during AM-W and underestimated during Walking, Running and Stairs. Windowed Peak Detection algorithm was more accurate during AM+W and AM-W and Autocorrelation performed better during Nordic. A MAPE of close or below 10% was achieved by both algorithms for the categories: Walking, Running, Stairs and Nordic.

Significance: Both algorithms provided accurate results for estimation of step counts in a controlled setting of a cardiovascular patient population. The quantification of daily number of steps recorded by wrist-worn accelerometers delivering raw data analyzed by freely available algorithms is a cost-effective option for research studies.

Keywords: Accelerometry; Algorithm; CVD; Open-source; Step-counting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accelerometry* / methods
  • Algorithms
  • Humans
  • Monitoring, Ambulatory
  • Walking
  • Wrist*