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PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles
Biotechnology - Computer Science - Critical Care and Emergency Medicine - Geriatrics - Public Health and Epidemiology

Fall Classification by Machine Learning Using Mobile Phones
Published: Monday, May 07, 2012
Author: Mark V. Albert et al.

by Mark V. Albert, Konrad Kording, Megan Herrmann, Arun Jayaraman

Fall prevention is a critical component of health care; falls are a common source of injury in the elderly and are associated with significant levels of mortality and morbidity. Automatically detecting falls can allow rapid response to potential emergencies; in addition, knowing the cause or manner of a fall can be beneficial for prevention studies or a more tailored emergency response. The purpose of this study is to demonstrate techniques to not only reliably detect a fall but also to automatically classify the type. We asked 15 subjects to simulate four different types of falls–left and right lateral, forward trips, and backward slips–while wearing mobile phones and previously validated, dedicated accelerometers. Nine subjects also wore the devices for ten days, to provide data for comparison with the simulated falls. We applied five machine learning classifiers to a large time-series feature set to detect falls. Support vector machines and regularized logistic regression were able to identify a fall with 98% accuracy and classify the type of fall with 99% accuracy. This work demonstrates how current machine learning approaches can simplify data collection for prevention in fall-related research as well as improve rapid response to potential injuries due to falls.