Medical & Biological Engineering & Computing

, Volume 57, Issue 2, pp 533–542 | Cite as

Body postural sway analysis in older people with different fall histories

  • Maryam GhahramaniEmail author
  • David Stirling
  • Fazel Naghdy
  • Golshah Naghdy
  • Janette Potter
Original Article


A cross-sectional study of postural sway analysis in older non-fallers, once-fallers and multiple-fallers using five common standing tests was conducted. Eighty-six older subjects with an average age of 80.4 years (SD ± 7.9) participated in the study. The angular rotation and velocity of the trunk of the participants in the roll (lateral) and pitch (sagittal) planes were recorded using an inertial sensor mounted on their lower backs. The Gaussian Mixture Models (GMM), Expectation-Maximisation (EM) and the Minimum Message Length (MML) algorithms were applied to the acquired data to obtain an index indicative of the body sway. The standing with feet together and standing with one foot in front, sway index distinguished older fallers from non-fallers with specificity of 75.7% and 77.7%, respectively, and sensitivity of 78.6% and 82.1%, respectively. This compares favourably with the Berg Balance Scales (BBS) with specificity of 70.5% and sensitivity of 75.3%. The results suggest that the proposed method has potential as a protocol to diagnose balance disorder in older people.

Graphical abstract


Older people Postural sway analysis Balance assessment Inertial sensor 



The authors thank Melissa Roach, the clinical physiotherapist, for her supervision during the experimental tests. Miss Maryam Ghahramani, the chief investigator, did this study as a part of her PhD. thesis. Her PhD scholarship was funded by Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD). The authors wish to acknowledge that Bulli Hospital, Bulli, Australia, and Wollongong Hospital, Wollongong, Australia, provided this study with older participants.

Compliance with ethical standards

The participants were asked to read and sign an informed consent statement. The ethics committee of the University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia (HE13/125), approved this study.


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Copyright information

© International Federation for Medical and Biological Engineering 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Electrical, Computer and Telecommunications EngineeringUniversity of WollongongWollongongAustralia
  2. 2.Illawarra Health and Medical Research InstituteUniversity of WollongongWollongongAustralia
  3. 3.Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health DistrictWollongongAustralia

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