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A new process to measure postural sway using a Kinect depth camera during a Sensory Organisation Test

Maudsley-Barton, S and Yap, MH and Bukowski, A and Mills, R and McPhee, J (2020) A new process to measure postural sway using a Kinect depth camera during a Sensory Organisation Test. PLoS One, 15 (2). ISSN 1932-6203

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Abstract

Posturography provides quantitative, objective measurements of human balance and postural control for research and clinical use. However, it usually requires access to specialist equipment to measure ground reaction forces, which are not widely available in practice, due to their size or cost. In this study, we propose an alternative approach to posturography. It uses the skeletal output of an inexpensive Kinect depth camera to localise the Centre of Mass (CoM) of an upright individual. We demonstrate a pipeline which is able to measure postural sway directly from CoM trajectories, obtained from tracking the relative position of three key joints. In addition, we present the results of a pilot study that compares this method of measuring postural sway to the output of a NeuroCom SMART Balance Master. 15 healthy individuals (age: 42.3 ± 20.4 yrs, height: 172 ± 11 cm, weight: 75.1 ± 14.2 kg, male = 11), completed 25 Sensory Organisation Test (SOT) on a NeuroCom SMART Balance Master. Simultaneously, the sessions were recorded using custom software developed for this study (CoM path recorder). Postural sway was calculated from the output of both methods and the level of agreement determined, using Bland-Altman plots. Good agreement was found for eyes open tasks with a firm support, the agreement decreased as the SOT tasks became more challenging. The reasons for this discrepancy may lie in the different approaches that each method takes to calculate CoM. This discrepancy warrants further study with a larger cohort, including fall-prone individuals, cross-referenced with a marker-based system. However, this pilot study lays the foundation for the development of a portable device, which could be used to assess postural control, more cost-effectively than existing equipment.

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