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Motion Sensors-Based Machine Learning Approach for the Identification of Anterior Cruciate Ligament Gait Patterns in On-the-Field Activities in Rugby Players


Salvatore Tedesco, Colum Crowe, Andrew Ryan, Marco Sica, Sebastian Scheurer, Amanda M. Clifford, Ken Brown, Brendan O'Flynn

Publication Type: 
Refereed Original Article
Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries are common among athletes. Despite a successful return to sport (RTS) for most of the injured athletes, a significant proportion do not return to competitive levels, and thus RTS post ACL reconstruction still represents a challenge for clinicians. Wearable sensors, owing to their small size and low cost, can represent an opportunity for the management of athletes on-the-field after RTS by providing guidance to associated clinicians. In particular, this study aims to investigate the ability of a set of inertial sensors worn on the lower-limbs by rugby players involved in a change-of-direction (COD) activity to differentiate between healthy and post-ACL groups via the use of machine learning. Twelve male participants (six healthy and six post-ACL athletes who were deemed to have successfully returned to competitive rugby and tested in the 5–10 year period following the injury) were recruited for the study. Time- and frequency-domain features were extracted from the raw inertial data collected. Several machine learning models were tested, such as k-nearest neighbors, naïve Bayes, support vector machine, gradient boosting tree, multi-layer perceptron, and stacking. Feature selection was implemented in the learning model, and leave-one-subject-out cross-validation (LOSO-CV) was adopted to estimate training and test errors. Results obtained show that it is possible to correctly discriminate between healthy and post-ACL injury subjects with an accuracy of 73.07% (multi-layer perceptron) and sensitivity of 81.8% (gradient boosting). The results of this study demonstrate the feasibility of using body-worn motion sensors and machine learning approaches for the identification of post-ACL gait patterns in athletes performing sport tasks on-the-field even a number of years after the injury occurred.
Digital Object Identifer (DOI): 
Publication Status: 
Date Accepted for Publication: 
Monday, 25 May, 2020
Publication Date: 
National University of Ireland, Cork (UCC)
Tyndall National Institute
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