Assessing gait parameters with accelerometer-based methods to identify older adults at risk of falls: a systematic review



The purpose of this study was to perform a systematic review to assess the utility of accelerometric methods to identify older adults at risk of falls.


The Preferred Reporting Item for Systematic review and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) guidelines were followed during all steps of this systematic review. Cross sectional and longitudinal studies assessing gait parameters in older adults using accelerometric devices, and comparing groups based on the risk of falls or fall history were identified from studies published in the MEDLINE, SCOPUS and Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews databases between January 1996 and January 2017. Study selection and data extraction were performed independently by two reviewers. The quality of the methodology used in the studies included was assessed using the Newcastle–Ottawa Scale.


In total, 354 references were identified through the database search. After selection, ten studies were included in this systematic review. According to the cross sectional studies, people who fall or are at risk of fall are slower, and walk with shorter steps, lower step frequency, worse stride and step regularity in terms of time, position and acceleration profiles. One longitudinal study suggests considering harmonic ratio of upper trunk acceleration in the vertical plane. Two other longitudinal studies highlight the importance of considering more than one gait parameter, and sophisticated statistical tools to discern older adults at risk for future fall(s).


This systematic review essentially highlights the lack of available literature providing strong evidence that gait parameters obtained using acceleration-based methods could be useful to discern older people at risk of fall. Available literature is encouraging, but further high quality studies are needed to highlight the cross-sectional and longitudinal relationships between gait parameters and falls in older adults.

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Fig. 1



Area under the curve


Intrinsic mode function


Harmonic ratios


Medio-lateral harmonic ratios

8-step MLHR:

Medio-lateral harmonic ratios based on the 8-step method


Newcastle–Ottawa Scale


Principal component analysis


Root mean square


Standard deviation


Step Stability Index


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S.G. is supported by a fellowship from the FNRS (Fonds National de la Recherche Scientifique de Belgique—FRS-FNRS— The authors would like to thank Mrs. Françoise Pasleau for advice on search strategies.

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Correspondence to S. Gillain.

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Gillain, S., Boutaayamou, M., Beaudart, C. et al. Assessing gait parameters with accelerometer-based methods to identify older adults at risk of falls: a systematic review. Eur Geriatr Med 9, 435–448 (2018).

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  • Review
  • Acceleration
  • Gait
  • Fall
  • Older adults