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Front. Physiol. | doi: 10.3389/fphys.2018.00218

Estimation of ground reaction forces and lower-body kinematics during running using three inertial sensors

 Frank J. Wouda1*,  Matteo Giuberti2, Giovanni Bellusci2, Erik Maartens1, 3,  Jasper Reenalda1, 3,  Bert-Jan F. Van Beijnum1, 4 and  Peter H. Veltink1
  • 1Institute for Biomedical Technology and Technical Medicine (MIRA), University of Twente, Netherlands
  • 2Xsens (Netherlands), Netherlands
  • 3Roessingh Research and Development, Netherlands
  • 4Centre for Telematics and Information Technology (CTIT), University of Twente, Netherlands

Analysis of running mechanics has traditionally been limited to a gait laboratory using either force plates or an instrumented treadmill in combination with a full-body optical motion capture system. With the introduction of inertial motion capture systems, it becomes possible to measure kinematics in any environment. However, kinetic information could not be provided with such technology. Furthermore, numerous body-worn sensors are required for a full-body motion analysis. The aim of this study is to examine the validity of a method to estimate sagittal knee joint angles and vertical ground reaction forces during running using an ambulatory minimal body-worn sensor setup. Two concatenated artificial neural networks were trained (using data from 8 healthy subjects) to estimate the kinematics and kinetics of the runners. The first artificial neural network maps the information (orientation and acceleration) of three inertial sensors (placed at the lower legs and pelvis) to lower-body joint angles. The estimated joint angles in combination with measured vertical accelerations are input to a second artificial neural network that estimates vertical ground reaction forces. To validate our approach, estimated joint angles were compared to both inertial and optical references, while kinetic output was compared to measured vertical ground reaction forces from an instrumented treadmill. Performance was evaluated using two scenarios: training and evaluating on a single subject and training on multiple subjects and evaluating on a different subject. The estimated kinematics and kinetics of most
subjects show excellent agreement (□ > 0:99) with the reference, for single subject training. Knee flexion/extension angles are estimated with a mean RMSE less than 5 degrees. Ground reaction forces are estimated with a mean RMSE less than 0.27 BW. Additionaly, peak vertical ground reaction force, loading rate and maximal knee flexion during stance were compared, however,no significant differences were found. With multiple subject training the accuracy of estimating discrete and continuous outcomes decreases, however, good agreement (□ > 0:9) is still achieved for seven of the eight different evaluated subjects. The performance of multiple subject learning depends on the diversity in the training dataset, as differences in accuracy were found for the different evaluated subjects.

Keywords: machine learning, artificial neural network, reduced sensor set, Inertial motion capture, Running, Kinetics

Received: 15 Nov 2017; Accepted: 26 Feb 2018.

Edited by:

Kamiar Aminian, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland

Reviewed by:

Leonardo A. Peyré-Tartaruga, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Brazil
Jean Slawinski, Université Paris Nanterre, France  

Copyright: © 2018 Wouda, Giuberti, Bellusci, Maartens, Reenalda, Van Beijnum and Veltink. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Mr. Frank J. Wouda, University of Twente, Institute for Biomedical Technology and Technical Medicine (MIRA), Enschede, Netherlands,