Closing the Wearable Gap-Part III: Use of Stretch Sensors in Detecting Ankle Joint Kinematics During Unexpected and Expected Slip and Trip Perturbations
Chander, H., Stewart, E., Saucier, D., Nguyen, P., Luczak, T., Ball, J. E., Knight, A., Smith, B. K., & Prabhu, R. (2019). Closing the Wearable Gap-Part III: Use of Stretch Sensors in Detecting Ankle Joint Kinematics During Unexpected and Expected Slip and Trip Perturbations. Electronics. MDPI. 8(10), 1083. DOI:10.3390/electronics8101083.
Background: An induced loss of balance resulting from a postural perturbation has been reported as the primary source for postural instability leading to falls. Hence; early detection of postural instability with novel wearable sensor-based measures may aid in reducing falls and fall-related injuries. The purpose of the study was to validate the use of a stretchable soft robotic sensor (SRS) to detect ankle joint kinematics during both unexpected and expected slip and trip perturbations. Methods: Ten participants (age: 23.7 ± 3.13 years; height: 170.47 ± 8.21 cm; mass: 82.86 ± 23.4 kg) experienced a counterbalanced exposure of an unexpected slip, an unexpected trip, an expected slip, and an expected trip using treadmill perturbations. Ankle joint kinematics for dorsiflexion and plantarflexion were quantified using three-dimensional (3D) motion capture through changes in ankle joint range of motion and using the SRS through changes in capacitance when stretched due to ankle movements during the perturbations. Results: A greater R-squared and lower root mean square error in the linear regression model was observed in comparing ankle joint kinematics data from motion capture with stretch sensors. Conclusions: Results from the study demonstrated that 71.25% of the trials exhibited a minimal error of less than 4.0 degrees difference from the motion capture system and a greater than 0.60 R-squared value in the linear model; suggesting a moderate to high accuracy and minimal errors in comparing SRS to a motion capture system. Findings indicate that the stretch sensors could be a feasible option in detecting ankle joint kinematics during slips and trips.