Several studies have shown that measuring changes in gait could be used to diagnose concussions, but measuring a person's gait typically requires wearing special clothing with reflective markers or sensors so that movements can be captured with motion analysis cameras. Using radar for gait analysis would be faster and less intrusive than these existing techniques. The assessment would be done with radar systems similar to those used by police for measuring the speed of vehicles.
For their study, the GTRI research team compared how 10 healthy individuals walked normally and when impaired. For the impairment scenario, individuals wore goggles that simulated alcohol impairment. Past research has shown that concussion impairment is equivalent to having a blood alcohol level of 0.05 percent.
During the trials, each individual performed four 30-second walking tasks: a normal walk, walk while saying the months of the year in reverse order, walk while wearing the goggles, and walk while wearing the goggles and performing the cognitive task. For each task, the subjects walked away from the radar system, turned around and walked back toward the radar system.
"We're using a 10.5 gigahertz continuous wave radar, which is similar to a police officer's radar gun that measures the speed of a car," explained Bing. "The data we collect tells us the velocity of everything that's in the field of view of the radar at that time, including a person's foot kicks, and head and torso movements."
The researchers analyzed the radar data using information-theoretic techniques, which detected similarities and differences in the information without having to identify and align specific body parts. In addition, these techniques could recognize a gait anomaly without requiring that an individual's normal gait be measured before the person became impaired.
|Contact: Abby Robinson|
Georgia Institute of Technology Research News