Wearable sensors-based postural analysis and fall risk assessment among patients with diabetic foot neuropathy

J Tissue Viability. 2023 Nov;32(4):516-526. doi: 10.1016/j.jtv.2023.10.002. Epub 2023 Oct 13.


Aims: To investigate the cross-sectional association between deep and superficial diabetic neuropathy, postural impairment assessed by wearable inertial sensors, and the risk of fall among patients with diabetic foot.

Methods: Diabetic patients attending a University Podiatric Clinic were evaluated for the presence of deep and superficial peripheral neuropathy in sensory tests. Postural impairment was assessed using a wearable inertial sensor, and the evaluation of balance/gait and risk of fall was determined by the Tinetti Scale and Downton Index, respectively. Glycemic control was measured by glycated haemoglobin concentration and fasting glycaemia. The postural parameters measured were the anteroposterior and medio-lateral sway of the center of mass (CoM) and the sway area (area traveled by the CoM per second). The results were analyzed through a logistic regression model to assess those posture variables mostly significantly associated with neuropathy and risk of fall scales.

Results: A total of 85 patients were evaluated. Spearman's rank correlation coefficients showed a strong and significant relationship (p < 0.05) between deep diabetic neuropathy assessed by Semmes-Weinstein monofilament, diapason and biothensiometer and postural alterations, whereas no significant correlations between superficial (painful sensitivity) neuropathy and the postural parameters. The sway path of the displacement along the anterior-posterior axis recorded during tests performed with eyes open and feet close together were significantly (p < 0.05) correlated with a poor glycemic (glycated haemoglobin concentration) control and each other with all diabetic neuropathy tests, fall risk scales, muscular weakness, ankle joint limitation and history of ulcers.

Conclusions: The results support the existence of a strong association between alterations of the deep somato-sensitive pathway (although depending on the tool used to measure peripheral neuropathy), glycemic control and balance impairments assessed using a wearable sensors. Wearable-based postural analysis might be part of the clinical assessment that enables the detection of balance impairments and the risk of fall in diabetic patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy.

Keywords: Diabetic foot; Diabetic foot neuropathy; Inertial sensors; Postural analysis; Postural instability.

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus*
  • Diabetic Foot* / complications
  • Diabetic Foot* / diagnosis
  • Diabetic Neuropathies* / complications
  • Diabetic Neuropathies* / diagnosis
  • Glycated Hemoglobin
  • Humans
  • Postural Balance
  • Risk Assessment
  • Wearable Electronic Devices*


  • Glycated Hemoglobin