Trunk posture monitoring with inertial sensors

Wai Yin Wong, Man Sang Wong

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

122 Citations (Scopus)


Measurement of human posture and movement is an important area of research in the bioengineering and rehabilitation fields. Various attempts have been initiated for different clinical application goals, such as diagnosis of pathological posture and movements, assessment of pre- and post-treatment efficacy and comparison of different treatment protocols. Image-based methods for measurements of human posture and movements have been developed, such as the radiography, photogrammetry, optoelectric technique and video analysis. However, it is found that these methods are complicated to set up, time-consuming to operate and could only be applied in laboratory environments. This study introduced a method of using a posture monitoring system in estimating the spinal curvature changes during trunk movements on the sagittal and coronal planes and providing trunk posture monitoring during daily activities. The system consisted of three sensor modules, each with one tri-axial accelerometer and three uni-axial gyroscopes orthogonally aligned, and a digital data acquisition and feedback system. The accuracy of this system was tested with a motion analysis system (Vicon 370) in calibration with experimental setup and in trunk posture measurement with nine human subjects, and the performance of the posture monitoring system during daily activities with two human subjects was reported. The averaged root mean squared differences between the measurements of the system and motion analysis system were found to be <1.5° in dynamic calibration, and <3.1° for the sagittal plane and ≤2.1° for the coronal plane in estimation of the trunk posture change during trunk movements. The measurements of the system and the motion analysis system was highly correlated (>0.999 for dynamic calibration and >0.829 for estimation of spinal curvature change in domain planes of movement during flexion and lateral bending). With the sensing modules located on the upper trunk, mid-trunk and the pelvic levels, the inclination of trunk segment and the change of spinal curvature in trunk movements could be estimated. The posture information of five subjects was recorded at 30 s intervals during daily activity over a period of 3 days and 2 h a day. The preliminary results demonstrated that the subjects could improve their posture when feedback signals were provided. The posture monitoring system could be used for the purpose of posture monitoring during daily activity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)743-753
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Spine Journal
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2008


  • Gyroscope
  • Motion analysis
  • Posture monitoring
  • Spine
  • Tri-axial accelerometer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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