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Clin Rehabil. 2008 Oct-Nov;22(10-11):878-95. doi: 10.1177/0269215508090675.

Wearable systems for monitoring mobility-related activities in older people: a systematic review.

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  • 1Institute of Human Movement Sciences and Sport, D-Biology, ETH Zurich, Switzerland.



The use of wearable motion-sensing technology offers important advantages over conventional methods for obtaining measures of physical activity and/or physical functioning in aged individuals. This review aims to identify the actual state of applying wearable systems for monitoring mobility-related activity in older populations. In this review we focus on technologies and applications, research designs, feasibility and adherence aspects, and clinical relevance of wearable motion-sensing technology.


PubMed (MEDLINE since 1990), Ovid (BIOSIS, CINAHL), and Cochrane (Central) and reference lists of all relevant articles were searched.


Two authors independently reviewed randomized and non-randomized trials on people above 65 years systematically. Quality of selected articles was scored and study results were summarised and discussed.


Two hundred and twenty-seven abstracts were considered. After application of inclusion criteria and full text reading, 42 articles were taken into account in a full text review. Twenty of these papers evaluated walking with step counters, other papers used varying accelerometry approaches for obtaining overall activity measures (n = 16), or for monitoring changes in body postures and activity patterns (n = 17). Seven studies explicitly mentioned feasibility and/or adherence aspects. Eight studies presented outcome evaluations of interventions. Eight articles were representing descriptive research designs, three articles were using mixed descriptive and exploratory research designs, 23 articles used exploratory research-type designs, and eight articles used experimental research designs.


Although feasible methods for monitoring human mobility are available, evidence-based clinical applications of these methods in older populations are in need of further development.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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