From Academia to Industry: A Q&A With Motitech Canada’s Director of Market Development Dan McEwen

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Tell me about your Ph.D. What did you research? What did you discover?

I completed my Ph.D. in Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Ottawa under the supervision of Dr. Heidi Sveistrup and Dr. Martin Bilodeau. My thesis was focused on the use of virtual reality technology to improve balance and mobility for individuals post-stroke. We found taking someone’s focus away from the task (e.g. standing, reaching, transferring weight) and into an engaging activity, the time flies by, improvements to function are enhanced and rehabilitation becomes...fun!   

What prompted you to enter that field of research?

My undergraduate work was in Human Kinetics. I have always been fascinated by the human body. When I started to hear about the inner workings of the human brain and how drastically a stroke can affect different functions with rehabilitation making vast improvements in short time periods (thanks to neuroplasticity!), I was hooked. This lead to a post-doctoral fellowship in another brain disorder, dementia. I had the opportunity to work with Motiview and collect data on the effects it was having for older adults and those with varying forms of dementia. Now we have to wait to read the report when it comes out to hear more!  

Tell me about your transition from academia to industry?

The transition from academia to industry is one that can seem intimidating for a lot of early stage researchers. My recommendation is to find a domain that you are passionate about. For me, it has always been improving the quality of life for older adults through fun and innovative solutions. Finding the right company that you can share a vision with is critical. The staff at Motitech are warm and welcoming, innovative and driven. As a company, we care. We are truly committed to providing older adults and those living with dementia an increased quality of life and better health through our Motiview solution. Now that’s a vision I knew I could support while making this transition.

Can you explain the basis of Motiview to those who may not be familiar with the technology?

Gladly! The Motiview solution is an ever growing video library (1600+ videos available today) that is paired with an exercise bike. The videos allow the cyclist feel as though they are pedalling down a familiar place, a past travel destination or perhaps a new destination they’ve always wanted to visit. We pair this with local music too. I personally love to pedal with the video from Paris (I have always wanted to visit there) while listening to Edith Piaf! The positive reminiscence is shared as the time on bike flies by. The Motiview solution also brings people back time and time again as they want to visit somewhere new or visit that familiar place again. You can check out just some of the videos here.

What are some things you saw in your research that are translating into real-world experience with Motitech and the Motiview Technology?

Great question! There is never enough knowledge translation (KT) today. This means taking the data researchers collect and ‘translating it’ into information that front-line staff can understand and use to ensure evidence based practices are being implemented. From my research and now my work with Motitech, it is obvious that innovative technologies can and do positively impact the quality of life for older adults. Engaging in and committing to physical activity is difficult for anyone, let alone older adults and those with dementia. Finding the right motivation is critical. Motiview is a perfect example of that by tapping into positive reminiscence.

What’s next for Motitech Canada?

We are finding our cyclists from coast-to-coast as we gear up for Road Worlds for Seniors 2019 coming this fall. We’re always looking for more partnerships so come join the journey here!