Novel sensing technology in fall risk assessment in older adults: A systematic review

Ruopeng Sun, Jacob J. Sosnoff

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Falls are a major health problem for older adults with significant physical and psychological consequences. A first step of successful fall prevention is to identify those at risk of falling. Recent advancement in sensing technology offers the possibility of objective, low-cost and easy-to-implement fall risk assessment. The objective of this systematic review is to assess the current state of sensing technology on providing objective fall risk assessment in older adults. Methods: A systematic review was conducted in accordance to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis statement (PRISMA). Results: Twenty-two studies out of 855 articles were systematically identified and included in this review. Pertinent methodological features (sensing technique, assessment activities, outcome variables, and fall discrimination/prediction models) were extracted from each article. Four major sensing technologies (inertial sensors, video/depth camera, pressure sensing platform and laser sensing) were reported to provide accurate fall risk diagnostic in older adults. Steady state walking, static/dynamic balance, and functional mobility were used as the assessment activity. A diverse range of diagnostic accuracy across studies (47.9% - 100%) were reported, due to variation in measured kinematic/kinetic parameters and modelling techniques. Conclusions: A wide range of sensor technologies have been utilized in fall risk assessment in older adults. Overall, these devices have the potential to provide an accurate, inexpensive, and easy-to-implement fall risk assessment. However, the variation in measured parameters, assessment tools, sensor sites, movement tasks, and modelling techniques, precludes a firm conclusion on their ability to predict future falls. Future work is needed to determine a clinical meaningful and easy to interpret fall risk diagnosis utilizing sensing technology. Additionally, the gap between functional evaluation and user experience to technology should be addressed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number14
JournalBMC Geriatrics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 16 2018


  • Fall risk
  • Geriatric
  • Older adults
  • Sensing technology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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