The purpose of this review was to examine the utility and accuracy of commercially available motion sensors to measure step-count and time spent upright in frail older hospitalized patients. A database search (CINAHL and PubMed, 2004–2014) and a further hand search of papers’ references yielded 24 validation studies meeting the inclusion criteria. Fifteen motion sensors (eight pedometers, six accelerometers, and one sensor systems) have been tested in older adults. Only three have been tested in hospital patients, two of which detected postures and postural changes accurately, but none estimated step-count accurately. Only one motion sensor remained accurate at speeds typical of frail older hospitalized patients, but it has yet to be tested in this cohort. Time spent upright can be accurately measured in the hospital, but further validation studies are required to determine which, if any, motion sensor can accurately measure step-count.
McCullagh, Brady, and Timmons are with the Centre for Gerontology & Rehabilitation, University College Cork, Ireland. Dillon is with the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College Cork, Ireland. Hogan is with the School of Physiotherapy, Royal College of Surgeons, Dublin, Ireland.