Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Using Your Cell Phone's Accelerometer

Footsteps App Free Version
Gait and Posture published interesting research regarding the accelerometers in cell phones.  By examining data collected from 55 adults while on a treadmill, the researchers concluded that cell phone accelerometers were strongly associated with treadmill gait speed.  The cell phones were tested while being worn as a pendant around the neck, and on the left and right wrist, hip, and ankle. The best results were seen when the cell phones were worn at the hip.

This is a great tool to use in the school setting for quick assessments.  Some children may benefit from the feedback to determine what is an appropriate gait speed.  Another idea would be to use the cell phone as a pedometer - see this previous blog post.

You can get a free app - Footsteps that will track up to 3000 steps per day (the paid version is only $0.99).  Good to try out and upgrade if necessary.  I have tested out this app and it works quite well.  You can adjust the settings for walking or running.  In addition you can change the step length and weight based on the user.  The screen displays steps, amount of time walking/running, distance, speed, calories burned and average speed.  Then it even tracks your history and graphs data for you!  This would be a wonderful data collection tool when measuring gait speed and distance for children in the school or home setting which is extremely helpful in making therapy goals objective.  Nice useful tool for pediatric therapists.  Attach the phone to a belt, put it around the child's hips and you will get some accurate data.

Reference:    Richard H. Carlson Jr et al. Treadmill gait speeds correlate with physical activity counts measured by cell phone accelerometers. Gait & Posture. Available online 2 April 2012. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gaitpost.2012.02.025 

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