Author(s): Mark V Albert
The measurement of body and limb posture is important to many clinical and research studies. Current approaches either directly measure posture (e.g., using optical or magnetic methods) or more indirectly measure it by integrating changes over time (e.g., using gyroscopes and/or accelerometers). Here, we introduce a way of estimating posture from movements without requiring integration over time and the resulting complications. We show how the almost imperceptible tremor of the hand is affected by posture in an intuitive way and therefore can be used to estimate the posture of the arm. We recorded postures and tremor of the arms of volunteers. By using only the minor axis in the covariance of hand tremor, we could estimate the angle of the forearm with a standard deviation of about 4° when the subject’s elbow is resting on a table and about 10° when it is off the table. This technique can also be applied as a post hoc analysis on other hand-position data sets to extract posture. This new method allows the estimation of body posture from tremor, is complementary to other techniques, and so can become a useful tool for future research and clinical applications.