Exploring risk of falls and dynamic unbalance in cerebellar ataxia by inertial sensor assessment

Pietro Caliandro, Carmela Conte, Chiara Iacovelli, Antonella Tatarelli, Stefano Filippo Castiglia, Giuseppe Reale, Mariano Serrao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background. Patients suffering from cerebellar ataxia have extremely variable gait kinematic features. We investigated whether and how wearable inertial sensors can describe the gait kinematic features among ataxic patients. Methods. We enrolled 17 patients and 16 matched control subjects. We acquired data by means of an inertial sensor attached to an ergonomic belt around pelvis, which was connected to a portable computer via Bluetooth. Recordings of all the patients were obtained during overground walking. From the accelerometric data, we obtained the harmonic ratio (HR), i.e., a measure of the acceleration patterns, smoothness and rhythm, and the step length coefficient of variation (CV), which evaluates the variability of the gait cycle. Results. Compared to controls, patients had a lower HR, meaning a less harmonic and rhythmic acceleration pattern of the trunk, and a higher step length CV, indicating a more variable step length. Both HR and step length CV showed a high effect size in distinguishing patients and controls (p < 0.001 and p = 0.011, respectively). A positive correlation was found between the step length CV and both the number of falls (R = 0.672; p = 0.003) and the clinical severity (ICARS: R = 0.494; p = 0.044; SARA: R = 0.680; p = 0.003). Conclusion. These findings demonstrate that the use of inertial sensors is effective in evaluating gait and balance impairment among ataxic patients.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5571
JournalSensors (Switzerland)
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2 2019


  • Balance
  • Cerebellar ataxia
  • Gait analysis
  • Inertial sensors
  • Movement analysis
  • Personalized medicine
  • Rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Instrumentation
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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