Accelerometry is a technique for quantifying movement through the use of accelerometers. These are devices worn on wrists and/or ankles for a day to measure movement during various activities.  Accelerometry offers a convenient and accurate way of measuring movement data at little additional cost.


Accelerometers give accurate information about daily activities that is not otherwise available to therapists or patients. Traditionally, therapists evaluate progress using different clinical tests to quantify what a person is capable of doing. Measurements taken in clinics and laboratories, however, do not always reflect what people actually do at home in everyday life. The goal of rehabilitation is to help people regain the ability to perform daily activities in their own environment.

Dr. Catherine Lang is generating graphs to illustrate how the arms are used to complete daily activity. Higher numbers, or bigger accelerations, means people are doing more intensive work such as running or scrubbing. Lower numbers means smaller accelerations and more subtle work such as typing. Different movement intensities and frequencies offer valuable insights about how people use their bodies in everyday lives. In our studies, each graph is generated based on a sample of accelerometer data lasting 24 hours.  By looking at the changes in graphs over time, patients and therapists can see how arm activity changes over time and with therapy interventions.

Numerous studies have shown that memories tend to be inaccurate, and self-reports can be biased. Accelerometry can be used by anyone who wants to understand more about his or her movements, or by clinicians who want to understand more about their patients’ movements.

Learn more about arm activity using accelerometry data