The complexity of daily life walking in older adult community-dwelling fallers and non-fallers

Espen A.F. Ihlen*, Aner Weiss, Alan Bourke, Jorunn L. Helbostad, Jeffrey M. Hausdorff

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Complexity of human physiology and physical behavior has been suggested to decrease with aging and disease and make older adults more susceptible to falls. The present study investigates complexity in daily life walking in community-dwelling older adult fallers and non-fallers measured by a 3D inertial accelerometer sensor fixed to the lower back. Complexity was expressed using new metrics of entropy: refined composite multiscale entropy (RCME) and refined multiscale permutation entropy (RMPE). The study re-analyses data of 3 days daily-life activity originally described by Weiss et al. (2013). The data set contains inertial sensor data from 39 older persons reporting less than 2 falls and 32 older persons reporting two or more falls during the previous year. The RCME and the RMPE were derived for trunk acceleration and velocity signals from walking epochs of 50 s using mean and variance coarse graining of the signals. Discriminant abilities of the entropy metrics were assessed using a partial least square discriminant analysis. Both RCME and RMPE successfully distinguished between the daily-life walking of the fallers and non-fallers (AUC>0.8) and performed better than the 35 conventional gait features investigated by Weiss et al. (2013). Higher complexity was found in the vertical and mediolateral directions in the non-fallers for both entropy metrics. These findings suggest that RCME and RMPE can be used to improve the assessment of fall risk in older people.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1420-1428
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number9
StatePublished - 14 Jun 2016


FundersFunder number
WIISELFP7-ICT-2011-7-ICT-2011.5.4, 288878
European CommissionV-TIME- 278169
Norges Forskningsråd230435


    • Accelerometer
    • Aging
    • Complexity
    • Falls
    • Gait
    • Multiscale entropy
    • Older adults
    • Variability


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