Publications

Using Mobile, Wearable, Technology to Understand the Role of Built Environment Demand for Outdoor Mobility

Walking outdoors requires navigating a complex environment. However, no studies have evaluated how environmental barriers affect outdoor mobility in real time. We assessed the impact of the built environment on outdoor mobility, using mobile, wearable inertial measurement units. Data come from a convenience sample of 23 community-dwelling adults in Southeast Michigan. Participants walked a defined outdoor route where gait metrics were captured over a real-world urban environment with varying challenges. Street segments were classified as high versus low environmental demand using the Senior Walking Environmental Assessment Tool. Participants ranged in age from 22 to 74 years (mean age of 47 years). Outdoor gait speed was 0.3 m/s slower, and gait variability almost doubled, over the high- versus low-demand environments (coefficient of variability = 10.6% vs. 5.6%, respectively). This is the first study to demonstrate the feasibility of using wearable motion sensors to gather real-time mobility data in response to outdoor environmental demand. Findings contribute to the understanding of outdoor mobility by quantifying how real-world environmental challenges influence mobility in real time.; Walking outdoors requires navigating a complex environment. However, no studies have evaluated how environmental barriers affect outdoor mobility in real time. We assessed the impact of the built environment on outdoor mobility, using mobile, wearable inertial measurement units. Data come from a convenience sample of 23 community-dwelling adults in Southeast Michigan. Participants walked a defined outdoor route where gait metrics were captured over a real-world urban environment with varying challenges. Street segments were classified as high versus low environmental demand using the Senior Walking Environmental Assessment Tool. Participants ranged in age from 22 to 74 years (mean age of 47 years). Outdoor gait speed was 0.3 m/s slower, and gait variability almost doubled, over the high- versus low-demand environments (coefficient of variability = 10.6% vs. 5.6%, respectively). This is the first study to demonstrate the feasibility of using wearable motion sensors to gather real-time mobility data in response to outdoor environmental demand. Findings contribute to the understanding of outdoor mobility by quantifying how real-world environmental challenges influence mobility in real time.