A major challenge for researchers and clinicians who address health issues in the ageing population is to monitor functioning, and to timely initiate interventions that aim to prevent loss of functional abilities and to improve the quality of life of older people. With the progress of technologies in the last decades, methods have become available that use body fixed sensors (BFS) to measure aspects of human performance under real-life conditions. These methods are based on the use of miniaturised and integrated sensors in combination with lightweight, small measuring devices that both can be carried on the body without interfering with normal behaviour. This paper addresses the potential relevance of new technology for monitoring motor function in older people, thereby specifically focusing on mobility assessment. After a short introduction with background information about BFS based technology, this paper identifies areas of particular relevance, and discusses the application of ambulatory techniques for long-term monitoring of daily physical activity, fall detectors, fall risk evaluation, and assessment of motor performance such as gait and balance control. Examples are given how these techniques can become clinically relevant, particularly in the context of fall interventions for older people. © Springer-Verlag 2007.
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