Understanding ageing effects using complexity analysis of foot-ground clearance during walking

Chandan Karmakar, Ahsan Khandoker, Rezaul Begg, Marimuthu Palaniswami

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Ageing influences gait patterns which in turn can affect the balance control of human locomotion. Entropy-based regularity and complexity measures have been highly effective in analysing a broad range of physiological signals. Minimum toe clearance (MTC) is an event during the swing phase of the gait cycle and is highly sensitive to the spatial balance control properties of the locomotor system. The aim of this research was to investigate the regularity and complexity of the MTC time series due to healthy ageing and locomotors' disorders. MTC data from 30 healthy young (HY), 27 healthy elderly (HE) and 10 falls risk (FR) elderly subjects with balance problems were analysed. Continuous MTC data were collected and using the first 500 data points, MTC mean, standard deviation (SD) and entropy-based complexity analysis were performed using sample entropy (SampEn) for different window lengths (m) and filtering levels (r). The MTC SampEn values were lower in the FR group compared to the HY and HE groups for all m and r. The HY group had a greater mean SampEn value than both HE and FR reflecting higher complexity in their MTC series. The mean SampEn values of HY and FR groups were found significantly different for m = 2, 4, 5 and r = (0.1-0.9) × SD, (0.3-0.9) × SD and (0.3-0.9) × SD, respectively. They were also significant difference between HE and FR groups for m = 4-5 and r = (0.3-0.7) × SD, but no significant differences were seen between HY and HE groups for any m and r. A significant correlation of SampEn with SD of MTC was revealed for the HY and HE groups only, suggesting that locomotor disorders could significantly change the regularity or the complexity of the MTC series while healthy ageing does not. These results can be usefully applied to the early diagnosis of common gait pathologies.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)554-564
Number of pages11
JournalComputer Methods in Biomechanics and Biomedical Engineering
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2013


  • gait
  • gait variability
  • minimum toe clearance
  • sample entropy


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