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Walk on the wild side: the complexity of free-living mobility assessment
  1. Aodhán Hickey1,
  2. Sam Stuart2,
  3. Karol O'Donovan3,
  4. Alan Godfrey4
  1. 1Insight Centre for Data Analytics, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
  2. 2On Medical Limited, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  3. 3School of Medicine, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland
  4. 4Newcastle University Business School, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Alan Godfrey, Newcastle University Business School, 5 Barrack Road, Newcastle University, Newcastle on Tyne NE1 4SE, UK; alan.godfrey{at}

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A recent study quantified free-living (community) mobility using subjective questionnaires.1 The authors found no useful information from their free-living mobility data. This can be attributed to the limited methodology, more likely overcome with standardised objective approaches.

Are inertial sensor-based (accelerometer/gyroscope) wearables the viable solution? They promise the next step in monitoring: unobtrusive, objective, continuous and pervasive. However, lack of clinically appropriate (sensitive/specific) algorithms has hindered advances. Often, attempts to instrument mobility in the context of physical activity (energy expenditure) or ambulation (‘macro gait’: walking bout detection or step count) …

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  • Twitter Follow Dr Alan Godfrey at @godfreybiomed

  • Contributors AH and AG drafted the commentary with critical advice from SS and KO. All authors contributed to writing.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.