Evaluation of Machine Learning Models for Classifying Upper Extremity Exercises Using Inertial Measurement Unit-Based Kinematic Data

Andrew Hua, Pratik Chaudhari, Nicole Johnson, Joshua Quinton, Bruce Schatz, David M Buchner, Manuel E. Hernandez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The amount of home-based exercise prescribed by a physical therapist is difficult to monitor. However, the integration of wearable inertial measurement unit (IMU) devices can aid in monitoring home exercise by analyzing exercise biomechanics. The objective of this study is to evaluate machine learning models for classifying nine different upper extremity exercises, based upon kinematic data captured from an IMU-based device. Fifty participants performed one compound and eight isolation exercises with their right arm. Each exercise was performed ten times for a total of 4500 trials. Joint angles were calculated using IMUs that were placed on the hand, forearm, upper arm, and torso. Various machine learning models were developed with different algorithms and train-test splits. Random forest models with flattened kinematic data as a feature had the greatest accuracy (98.6%). Using triaxial joint range of motion as the feature set resulted in decreased accuracy (91.9%) with faster speeds. Accuracy did not decrease below 90% until training size was decreased to 5% from 50%. Accuracy decreased (88.7%) when splitting data by participant. Upper extremity exercises can be classified accurately using kinematic data from a wearable IMU device. A random forest classification model was developed that quickly and accurately classified exercises. Sampling frequency and lower training splits had a modest effect on performance. When the data were split by subject stratification, larger training sizes were required for acceptable algorithm performance. These findings set the basis for more objective and accurate measurements of home-based exercise using emerging healthcare technologies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9108597
Pages (from-to)2452-2460
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE Journal of Biomedical and Health Informatics
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2020


  • Biomechanics
  • classification
  • inertial measurement units
  • machine learning
  • physical therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Information Management
  • Health Informatics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications


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