There are many inconsistencies in the literature regarding how to estimate the Lyapunov Exponent (LyE) for gait. In the last decade, many papers have been published using Lyapunov Exponents to determine differences between young healthy and elderly adults and healthy and frail older adults. However, the differences in methodologies of data collection, input parameters, and algorithms used for the LyE calculation has led to conflicting numerical values for the literature to build upon. Without a unified methodology for calculating the LyE, researchers can only look at the trends found in studies. For instance, LyE is generally lower for young adults compared to elderly adults, but these values cannot be correlated across studies to create a classifier for individuals that are healthy or at-risk of falling. These issues could potentially be solved by standardizing the process of computing the LyE.
This dissertation examined several hurdles that must be overcome to create a standardized method of calculating the LyE for gait data when collected with an accelerometer. In each of the following investigations, both the Rosenstein et al. and Wolf et al. algorithms as well as three normalization methods were applied in order to understand the extent at which these factors affect the LyE. First, the a priori parameters of time delay and embedding dimension which are required for phase space reconstruction were investigated. This study found that the time delay can be standardized to a value of 10 and that an embedding dimension of 5 or 7 should be used for the Rosenstein and Wolf algorithm respectively. Next, the effect of data length on the LyE was examined using 30 to 1300 strides of gait data. This analysis found that comparisons across papers are only possible when similar amounts of data are used but comparing across normalization methods is not recommended. And finally, the reliability and minimum required number of strides for each of the 6 algorithm-normalization method combinations in both young healthy and elderly adults was evaluated. This research found that the Rosenstein algorithm was more reliable and required fewer strides for the calculation of the LyE for an accelerometer.
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