Portable Gait Lab: Tracking Relative Distances of Feet and CoM Using Three IMUs

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Ambulatory estimation of gait and balance parameters requires knowledge of relative feet and centre of mass (CoM) positions. Inertial measurement units (IMU)
placed on each foot, and on the pelvis are useful in tracking these segments over time, but cannot track the relative distances between these segments. Further, drift due to strapdown inertial navigation results in erroneous relative estimates of feet and CoM positions after a few steps. In this study,we track the relative distances using the assumptions of the Centroidal Moment Pivot (CMP) theory. An Extended Kalman filter approach was used to fuse information from different sources: strapdown inertial navigation, commonly used constraints such as zero velocity updates, and relative segment distances from the CMP assumption; to eventually track relative feet and CoM positions. These estimates were expressed in a reference frame defined by the heading of each step. The validity of this approach was tested on variable gait. The step lengths and step widths were estimated with an average absolute error of 4.6±1.5cmand3.8±1.5cm respectively when compared against the reference VICON. Additionally, we validated the relative distances of the feet and the CoM, and further, show that the approach proves useful in identifying asymmetric gait patterns.We conclude that a three IMU approach is feasible as a portable gait lab for ambulatory measurement of foot and CoM positions in daily life.
Original languageEnglish
Article number9171861
Pages (from-to)2255-2264
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE transactions on neural systems and rehabilitation engineering
Issue number10
Early online date20 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


  • Inertial measurement unit
  • gait analysis
  • step length
  • relative feet distance
  • CoM kinematics


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