Inertial sensing algorithms for long-term foot angle monitoring for assessment of idiopathic toe-walking

Eric Chalmers, Jonathan Le, Dulai Sukhdeep, Joe Watt, John Andersen, Edmond Lou
Gait & Posture 2014, 39 (1): 485-9
When children walk on their toes for no known reason, the condition is called Idiopathic Toe Walking (ITW). Assessing the true severity of ITW can be difficult because children can alter their gait while under observation in clinic. The ability to monitor the foot angle during daily life outside of clinic may improve the assessment of ITW. A foot-worn, battery-powered inertial sensing device has been designed to monitor patients' foot angle during daily activities. The monitor includes a 3-axis accelerometer, 2-axis gyroscope, and a low-power microcontroller. The device is necessarily small, with limited battery capacity and processing power. Therefore a high-accuracy but low-complexity inertial sensing algorithm is needed. This paper compares several low-complexity algorithms' aptitude for foot-angle measurement: accelerometer-only measurement, finite impulse response (FIR) and infinite impulse response (IIR) complementary filtering, and a new dynamic predict-correct style algorithm developed using fuzzy c-means clustering. A total of 11 subjects each walked 20 m with the inertial sensing device fixed to one foot; 10 m with normal gait and 10 m simulating toe walking. A cross-validation scheme was used to obtain a low-bias estimate of each algorithm's angle measurement accuracy. The new predict-correct algorithm achieved the lowest angle measurement error: <5° mean error during normal and toe walking. The IIR complementary filtering algorithm achieved almost-as good accuracy with less computational complexity. These two algorithms seem to have good aptitude for the foot-angle measurement problem, and would be good candidates for use in a long-term monitoring device for toe-walking assessment.

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