Direct measurement of human movement by accelerometry

Alan Godfrey*, R. Conway, D. Meagher, G. ÓLaighin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

447 Citations (Scopus)


Human movement has been the subject of investigation since the fifth century when early scientists and researchers attempted to model the human musculoskeletal system. The anatomical complexities of the human body have made it a constant source of research to this day with many anatomical, physiological, mechanical, environmental, sociological and psychological studies undertaken to define its key elements. These studies have utilised modern day techniques to assess human movement in many illnesses. One such modern technique has been direct measurement by accelerometry, which was first suggested in the 1970s but has only been refined and perfected during the last 10-15 years. Direct measurement by accelerometry has seen the introduction of the successful implementation of low power, low cost electronic sensors that have been employed in clinical and home environments for the constant monitoring of patients (and their controls). The qualitative and quantitative data provided by these sensors make it possible for engineers, clinicians and physicians to work together to be able to help their patients in overcoming their physical disability. This paper presents the underlying biomechanical elements necessary to understand and study human movement. It also reflects on the sociological elements of human movement and why it is important in patient life and well being. Finally the concept of direct measurement by accelerometry is presented with past studies and modern techniques used for data analysis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1364-1386
Number of pages23
JournalMedical Engineering and Physics
Issue number10
Early online date8 Nov 2008
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2008


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