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Frailty syndrome measured using sensors, 'chair test'

Wearing sensors while standing up and sitting down in a chair for 30 seconds may provide a more accurate measure of frailty syndrome.
By Stephen Feller   |   Feb. 12, 2016 at 4:12 PM

PAMPLONA, Spain, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- A researcher in Spain has used inertial sensors during a "chair test" to easily evaluate frailty in older people based on the physical demands of standing up from a sitting position.

Testing how many times a person can stand up and sit down in a chair for 30 seconds can be used to evaluate frailty, according to Nora Millor, a researcher at the Public University of Navarra.

The researcher, Nora Millor, said doctor bias is involved in the list of characteristics generally used to evaluate frailty syndrome, the normal test for which involves detecting three or more criteria in a patient: slowness in walking, weakness, weight loss, fatigue, and low physical activity.

"Getting up from a chair is one of the activities in daily life that poses the greatest level of mechanical and muscular demand," Millor said in a press release. "A proportion of the elderly population has serious difficulties in being able to do this, so they spend more time sitting and their capacity to live independently is reduced."

Millor used a set of inertial sensors that measured acceleration and angular speed, testing them on healthy volunteers in the early 20s, and then two sets of older volunteers who were either healthy, pre-frail, or diagnosed as being frail.

Millor published her findings as her doctoral thesis, a retrospective review of sensors to determine movement and speed, as well as how various basic function movements of standing and sitting have been linked to measuring frailty.

The potential for the measurement to be accurate exists, she writes, however future research on more precise sensors that pick up the most subtle movements could improve the test. Millor also points to several setups for sensors and algorithms that analyze data collected during tests, suggesting a system could be packaged as a mobile app to make it easy for clinicians to administer the test and track patient progression over time.

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