Ecological Gait as a Fall Indicator in Older Adults: A Systematic Review. By: Job, Mirko; Dottor, Alberto; Viceconti, Antonello; Testa, Marco. Gerontologist. Aug2020, Vol. 60 Issue 5, pe395-e412. 18p.

Background and Objectives: Falls represent a major threat for elders, affecting their life quality and expectancy. Clinical tests and questionnaires showed low diagnostic value with respect to fall risk. Modern sensor technology allows in-home gait assessments, with the possibility to register older adults’ ecological mobility and, potentially, to improve accuracy in determining fall risk. Hence, we studied the correlation between standardized assessments and ecological gait measures, comparing their ability to identify fall risk and predict prospective falls

Research Design and Method: A systematic review was conducted following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis statement guidelines.

Results: From a total of 938 studies screened, nine articles with an observational study design were included. Evidence from selected works was subcategorized in (i) correlations between ecological and clinical measures and comparative statistics of (ii) prospective fall prediction and (iii) fall risk identification. A large number of correlations were observed between single ecological gait assessments and multiple clinical fall risk evaluations. Moreover, the combination of daily-life features and clinical tests outcomes seemed to improve diagnostic accuracy in fall risk identification and fall prediction. However, it was not possible to understand the extent of this enhancement due to the high variability in models’ parameters.

Discussion and Implications: Evidence suggested that sensor-based ecological assessments of gait could boost diagnostic accuracy of fall risk measurement protocols if used in combination with clinical tests. Nevertheless, further studies are needed to understand what ecological features of gait should be considered and to standardize models’ definition.