Assessing inertial measurement unit locations for freezing of gait detection and patient preference

J Neuroeng Rehabil. 2022 Feb 13;19(1):20. doi: 10.1186/s12984-022-00992-x.


Background: Freezing of gait, a common symptom of Parkinson's disease, presents as sporadic episodes in which an individual's feet suddenly feel stuck to the ground. Inertial measurement units (IMUs) promise to enable at-home monitoring and personalization of therapy, but there is a lack of consensus on the number and location of IMUs for detecting freezing of gait. The purpose of this study was to assess IMU sets in the context of both freezing of gait detection performance and patient preference.

Methods: Sixteen people with Parkinson's disease were surveyed about sensor preferences. Raw IMU data from seven people with Parkinson's disease, wearing up to eleven sensors, were used to train convolutional neural networks to detect freezing of gait. Models trained with data from different sensor sets were assessed for technical performance; a best technical set and minimal IMU set were identified. Clinical utility was assessed by comparing model- and human-rater-determined percent time freezing and number of freezing events.

Results: The best technical set consisted of three IMUs (lumbar and both ankles, AUROC = 0.83), all of which were rated highly wearable. The minimal IMU set consisted of a single ankle IMU (AUROC = 0.80). Correlations between these models and human raters were good to excellent for percent time freezing (ICC = 0.93, 0.89) and number of freezing events (ICC = 0.95, 0.86) for the best technical set and minimal IMU set, respectively.

Conclusions: Several IMU sets consisting of three IMUs or fewer were highly rated for both technical performance and wearability, and more IMUs did not necessarily perform better in FOG detection. We openly share our data and software to further the development and adoption of a general, open-source model that uses raw signals and a standard sensor set for at-home monitoring of freezing of gait.

Keywords: Freezing of gait; Inertial measurement units; Machine learning.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Gait
  • Gait Disorders, Neurologic* / diagnosis
  • Gait Disorders, Neurologic* / etiology
  • Humans
  • Neural Networks, Computer
  • Parkinson Disease* / complications
  • Parkinson Disease* / diagnosis
  • Patient Preference