Current clinical methods of screening older adults for fall risk have difficulties. We analyzed data on 67 women (mean age = 77.5 years) who participated in the Objective Physical Activity and Cardiovascular Health (OPACH) study within the Women’s Health Initiative and in an accelerometer calibration substudy. Participants completed the short physical performance battery (SPPB), questions about falls in the past year, and a timed 400-m walk while wearing a hip triaxial accelerometer (30 Hz). Women with SPPB ≤ 9 and 1+reported falls (n = 19) were grouped as high fall risk; women with SPPB = 10–12 and 0 reported falls (n = 48) were grouped as low fall risk. Random Forests were trained to classify women into these groups, based upon traditional measures of gait and/or signal-based features extracted from accelerometer data. Eleven models investigated combined feature effects on classification accuracy, using 10-fold cross-validation. The models had an average 73.7% accuracy, 81.1% precision, and 0.706 AUC. The best performing model including triaxial data, cross-correlations, and traditional measures of gait had 78.9% accuracy, 84.4% precision, and 0.846 AUC. Mediolateral signal-based measures—coefficient of variance, cross-correlation with anteroposterior accelerations, and mean acceleration—ranked as the top 3 features. The classification accuracy is promising, given research on probabilistic models of falls indicates accuracies ≥80% are challenging to achieve. The results suggest accelerometer-based measures captured during walking are potentially useful in screening older women for fall risk. We are applying algorithms developed in this paper on an OPACH dataset of 5000 women with a 1-year prospective falls log and week-long, free-living accelerometer data.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Medicine (miscellaneous)
- Health Informatics
- Computer Science Applications
- Health Information Management