Home Designs For Life: Remodeling Ideas To Increase Safety, Function, And Accessibility In The Home.

Episode 32: Video Gaming Technology To Help Older Adults Stay Healthy And Active

November 10, 2022 Janet Engel, OT/L, CAPS Season 3 Episode 32
Home Designs For Life: Remodeling Ideas To Increase Safety, Function, And Accessibility In The Home.
Episode 32: Video Gaming Technology To Help Older Adults Stay Healthy And Active
Show Notes Transcript

Jintronix is already helping thousands participate in engaging and therapeutic experiences in hospitals, nursing homes, communities and at home.

Their research-backed approaches benefit individuals undergoing intensive rehabilitation and residents participating in therapy, restorative and fall-prevention programs.

Jintronix  can help older adults remain healthy and prevent falls, thereby enabling people to age in place. 

 Lack of exercise and deconditioning is one of the main reasons why seniors fall.

Exercise has long been known to be beneficial for overall health and physical function, but its role in reducing rate of falls and fall-related injuries has only recently been recognized.

A growing body of evidence suggests that exercise can help to prevent falls by improving strength, better balance, and coordination.

Please listen to my conversation with Mark Evin, Co-founder and CEO of Jintronix,  to learn more about this cutting edge, video gaming exercise program developed specifically for seniors and take advantage of their free 3 month trial, using the link below.

Here's the link for your free 3 month trial:

Link to Article: How Does Exercise Reduce Falls

Support the show



[00:00:00] Janet: Hello, and thank you for being with us today. We have Mark Evan. He is the co-founder and CEO of Jintronix and I am very happy to have him here today. He is coming to us from Quebec. And Mark, thank you for being with us. 

[00:00:20] Mark: Janet, it is a pleasure to be here speaking with you today. Thanks for. . 

[00:00:23] Janet: Yeah, so I came across Mark on LinkedIn.

[00:00:28] Janet: I saw a profile about his company, Jintronix, and was very interested in learning about how he has introduced the medium of exercise into video games for seniors to help seniors stay at home, help seniors stay healthy and live functional. Lives that are very high in quality. So Mark why don't you start and tell us about how you got into the healthy aging space and how you started [00:01:00] Jintronix

[00:01:00] Mark: Yeah, so I've been, this company Jintronix has been doing its thing for over 10 years actually. It's amazing to, to imagine the journey and before Jintronix I was actually doing a lot of. Making interactive installations for museums and science centers. So not quite in the healthy aging space at that time, but it was really about using different innovative approaches to interactive technology, to engage people, educate them, inspire them in different.

[00:01:36] Mark: And I was doing a lot of work, like I mentioned in museums. And I first came across the idea of working in the area of rehab and therapy by interacting with kids with developmental coordination disorder. And we had the idea of like we intake video games and really apply it to, to physical therapy exercises.

[00:01:58] Mark: And then I started doing my [00:02:00] research and connecting with clinical advisors, and I got connected with. My partner at the time and his father had actually recently, at that time, suffered from a stroke. And so we really gave us an opportunity to go deep and learn about the challenges of people undergoing the rehabilitation experience.

[00:02:21] Mark: And we decided at that time to get to really go deep into building a interactive program. That used video games and combined them with evidence based science backed therapeutic exercises to really get people to engage and in, in their therapeutic exercise. And one of the big insights that really led to, and this was insights in the research at the time, is that there are a lot of really effective exercise protocols out there that.

[00:02:58] Mark: That help people with preventing [00:03:00] falls that help people improve their functional abilities coming off of a challenging event like a stroke. And but the biggest challenge, the biggest problem is preventing people from really getting to that level of function that's there in the world of potential is engagement.

[00:03:18] Mark: Is actually getting up. Getting into the habit of doing an exercise, doing your program day in and day out, cuz that's really what it takes to reach your potential and the level of of function and healthy living. And using video games was a really interesting way to bring that into the space of healthcare and find a way to engage people.

[00:03:43] Mark: Because when you're looking at exercise purely on a physiological level you're looking at the human as a machine and you're gonna get some really interesting scientific insights from that. But if you are ignoring the part of [00:04:00] the human that makes decisions, that's aware of what it's doing and that is makes the decisions to one exercise, if you ignore that part, you're missing an important piece of the puzzle.

[00:04:12] Mark: So the idea was to combine. The best evidence we had around what makes a human body improve and better and active and healthy. And combine that with what makes a human mind excited to engage in these exercises. So we built this pro, we built this company based on that insight. And we started by building a program that we brought into rehabilitation hospitals and skilled nursing facility.

[00:04:41] Mark: Across United States and the world over the last 10 years. We're in about 350 right now, and over the last two years we, we started building a new program for healthy aging at home. So that's a just a little bit about how we got into this program, how we got into this company, and  And it's [00:05:00] been really fun ever since

[00:05:01] Janet: Well, thank you. That's a great explanation. And I wanna go back to what you were saying about motivation to exercise. And that was one thing that I would tell my patients when I did home health was, if you're only doing your exercises when I come to see you, then you're not really getting the benefit.

[00:05:20] Janet: I'm here just to make sure that you're doing them correctly, educate you on how this is helping you perhaps correct your form or tie it to some functional activity. But you need to be doing this when I'm not here. Otherwise, none of this is going to work. And when I discharge you, you need to make this a part of your routine.

[00:05:42] Janet: And so, and there is, the key is did you know that you humans have to do something for three? Before becomes part of their routine. 

[00:05:50] Mark: Yeah. Probably even more than that. . So that's the, Yeah.  Yeah. So that's 

[00:05:55] Janet: the key is making it a part of your routine. But if Jintronix has [00:06:00] discovered how motivate people and make it fun, well then that's a big part.

[00:06:05] Janet: That puzzle, Right. , I 

[00:06:09] Mark: would think. Absolutely. And going into the question of the psychology of engagement, it's  it's a really deep question. It's a deep subject. And it's Something that we're still exploring. I mean, we don't really know what's the golden,  the golden bullet that's gonna, that's gonna crack this code, but we've over the last 10, 15 years doing research and interactive technology and just general research and engagement in general. And I know some really great innovators in the space not just in video games.  There's definitely a. The exploration that have been had around, you know, gratification now versus gratification later.

[00:06:49] Mark: What does it take to, to to really be to really each day that you show up for your exercise? What is it gonna take during that day to get you set up for the next day? There are some  [00:07:00] some really great innovators that have put some really good theories together that we've leveraged ideas around tiny habits,

[00:07:07] Mark: quick wins and just general engagement techniques that are there to really inspire a person to you know, to see their possible improvement in a way that goes beyond the limits that they had originally thought for themselves. 

[00:07:23] Janet:  Okay. So what is it about video games that will increase engagement?

[00:07:29] Mark: So so like I said before, you know, in when we're, when you're thinking about doing an exercise, normally when we think of an exercise, we think of doing repetitions of a movement. Five repetitions of this, three sets of 10 repetitions Of that, three sets of four on this one. Hold, do this, hold for 30 seconds.

[00:07:47] Mark: It's very quantified and  that, that works for certain people  who are, who really have a seriously high degree of discipline.  The other  the challenge is that for most [00:08:00] people, myself included, there's that little voice in the back of your head that says, while you're doing it geez, when is this gonna be over?

[00:08:08] Mark:  I, what am I gonna do after this? This is a real slog. And that is the, it's not just, it's not just benign. That voice in your head has the possibility to give you tremendous energy and ha it also has the ability to flush away energy that you could have had. And and you're not really  when you're doing just a repetition of a specific movement, you're not giving your mind much to munch on to think about while you're doing your.

[00:08:35] Mark: So what does a video game do? A video game takes a whole different context and overlays it on top of the exercise. So instead of doing 10 squats you are navigating the Italian Alps on skis and you're ducking under the branches. And you're trying to beat your personal. [00:09:00] So there's a whole other story that you're telling about the exercise that you're doing, and all of a sudden you're focused on the beautiful scenery.

[00:09:09] Mark: You're focused on getting under those branches. Then, Wow, I just did 10 squats. I wasn't even thinking about it. And it's that energy that you get from that thrilling experience. That keeps you coming back, that at the end you say, Well, the time just flew by. And and look at my stats, look at what I did.

[00:09:30] Mark: So that's why video games are a really important piece to it. And, you know, going back to OT, to the origins of OT is very much rooted in play. So the concept of play is a really fundamental part of what, you know, how this discipline. And we see video games and with our clinical advisory team as a really important evolution of the idea of using play and bringing that [00:10:00] together with really validated science.

[00:10:04] Mark: So you have the mental part of you and the physical part of you working together towards the same goal. And there's no push and pull, no tug of war. Yeah. And 

[00:10:15] Janet: then I think once people experience the benefits of exercise, and I'm referring to feeling good, having more energy, having more flexibility having an easier time doing the things that you wanna do every day, then it's much easier for them to stay committed

[00:10:36] Mark: absolutely. Absolutely.  The, how you feel after it is a big  a big piece. So  when I exercise myself, the one thing, there's one reason I exercise that probably the most important reason more than any other reason, buy a long slide. For me it's not because in 30 years I'm gonna be happy I.

[00:10:53] Mark: Or I'm gonna look good physically. I'm fine [00:11:00] with that, but it's more about how I feel like today I knew I was gonna come on to a podcast with you, Janet, and I knew the tapes were gonna be rolling and we were gonna be talking about things that we're passionate about.

[00:11:14] Mark: And we wanted to do a really good job. We wanted to feel good during that conversation. So for me it was a absolutely critical. You gotta do some exercise before because it makes you feel good, and that's part of what people think about.  That's a critical part of exercise is how you feel for the rest of the day.

[00:11:36] Mark: And Video games and people say, Well video games, you're doing it at home. You're doing it on your own. But the idea is if the video game experience, if the exercise experience gets you up, makes you want to do the exercises, and you feel good after, well, what do you do when you feel good?

[00:11:54] Mark: You go out, take a walk, you go, you see a friend, you be more social. [00:12:00] You're more light on. And you want to do things that you're a little bit more open minded. So that's the benefits of exercise and I really think that's a critical piece of  of what our mission is about.

[00:12:15] Mark: It's exercise so you can go out and really get the most out of your day and your life. . 

[00:12:21] Janet: Yeah, I couldn't agree with you more. And I did the same thing before our conversation. I went to the gym, and I went to a step class, and so it was a cardiovascular workout. I personally liked to work in a group setting, and so.

[00:12:38] Janet: And I think it's just much more entertaining because I, like you said, I get board counting sets and just being by myself, and I feel like I get a much better workout if someone else is directing the workout. So I would dare to say that you have something similar going on with the [00:13:00] video game because it's being directed by the program.

[00:13:03] Janet: Yeah. And so the person is just following along. So tell me how the different types of games or activities that people can engage in. 

[00:13:11] Mark: So we've  when we started developing this new program a couple of years ago, so basically what we developed is a laptop and tablet program. So you can basically download this onto your laptop and tablet and it actually uses your web camera to track your motions.

[00:13:27] Mark: And when we were sitting down to design this program, we thought we wanna learn from everything that we've done over the last 10 years. And we really wanted to do this right? And so we did some deep surveys and interviews of people who, you know, whose lives were, we were looking to touch with this program to understand, well, what kind of experiences are you looking to have?

[00:13:53] Mark: What do you miss? Would you, were you excited by what are you curious about? [00:14:00] What do you do on a regular. And obviously we learned a lot of things about a lot of people, but one thing that came out very strong as a, as an un, as a current was exploration and adventure. Especially when some people are at a stage in their life when they can't pick up and go to Patagonia or Chile,

[00:14:21] Mark: or, or  the Swiss Alps. So we thought what we wanted to do with this program is really create a feeling of a world travel experience. So  with that in mind, we created a ski slalom activity where you're skiing the Italian Alps and your experience actually what the Alps in that region of the world look like.

[00:14:44] Mark: So these big, legendary looking rock. That are very characteristic of the Italian Dolomite Mountains in these wide expansive areas. So, and that's a game where you're squatting, you're weight shifting, you're skiing [00:15:00] through blades, through open areas and narrow spaces. That's one game. We had another game that was actually inspired specifically by one of our play testers.

[00:15:09] Mark: Our. Our  older adults who was are one of the people who've been, was a really vocal advocate for for elements of this program. And they sent me some TV shows on spy thrillers. And one of the key pieces was was a James Bond movie from the 1970s that takes place in Thailand.

[00:15:29] Mark: And there's a place called James Bond Island. So we said we're gonna create a rock climbing, mountain scaling experience in this actual location that exists, that has a lot of history has residents in our pop culture. You're gonna be climbing James Bond Island and  that's that we have. And you can see the vegetation.

[00:15:53] Mark: It's sort of a rainforesty environment as you go. That's a side-stepping exercise and upper body reaching. So this [00:16:00] is a dynamic standing balance exercise. And then we wanted a cycling activity that's focused on cardiovascular exercise, knee raises, marching in place, and also side reaching, which is the Tour de France, the classic tour de France,

[00:16:16] Mark: visiting towns different monuments along the way, bridges, beaches, tunnels, open areas, foresty areas. So we really wanted to create that experience, that Tour de France experience. So those are the three games we have now, is they're all experienced world travel based, and we have two more games that we're creating that we're gonna hope to have done by Christmas.

[00:16:44] Mark: One is a white water rafting game. And we're actually Wow. Still debating which location, where in the world we want to bring  this  this experience too. So we're kind of playing with Chile is one, the Patagonia region. [00:17:00] We have  an idea in Slovenia. That's a beautiful area. Yeah, a Costa Rican possibility.

[00:17:05] Mark: So we're still designing that environment for. And we also have a New Zealand adventure game that we're gonna be adding that has some really characteristic sports and unique things there that's gonna be a trunk postural control. So for, so we're very serious about the clinical evidence and everything we're doing is based on clinically demonstrated fall prevention exercise program.

[00:17:30] Mark:  Huh And then going deep into the environment and the experience and what you're thinking about as you're doing these games. So  so that's sort of the the  the content that we have now. We're gonna be adding more and more content as we go. And yeah, that's just a little bit about the a little bit of a description of what we've got going on now with this new.

[00:17:42] Janet: Well, that's fascinating. And so I want to piggyback on that and ask you, do any of these games, can they be used with the user sitting 

[00:17:55] Mark: down? So right now [00:18:00] at this point in time, we're focusing this on standing exercise. But you can be using an assistive device. You can be using a walker or the back of a chair.

[00:18:09] Mark: So  that's definitely something we are having, but we are going to be extending the program for seated position very soon. So that's coming up right up after these two games. So our plan is gonna be release these two more games by Christmas and then go back and add this this support for  for seated position.

[00:18:29] Mark: So  we definitely know how important that. . 

[00:18:32] Janet: Okay, great. And so how does it work? Because, for example, myself, I'm not technically savvy. And so I know that with older people, they may say, Well if it's a video game program, now I'm going to have to mess with different things on my television or my computer, or there may be equipment that I need that I don't have.

[00:18:57] Janet: So educate me, How [00:19:00] does it 

[00:19:00] Mark: work? Okay. So that was actually one of the biggest questions that we had before we, we made this program, was  we asked is it going to work? From a usability perspective when you create a new innovative program that doesn't exist yet it's always a good question to ask yourself.

[00:19:21] Mark: Why does this not exist? And one thing we found was well, there were a few things that we learned along the way. One thing, but one thing was  people have a certain impression of people who didn't necessarily grow up as a teenager with computers. Like learning a language, it's  it's a lot easier to learn it when you're seven years old than when you're 70.

[00:19:39] Mark: That's just the. Thing things are so the real question was, is there something fundamental that's preventing,  this, a person like that who hasn't had that early life experience with computers or something preventing them from enjoying and get, taking advantage of the of novel, innovative [00:20:00] software that could be beneficial for them?

[00:20:03] Mark: Or is there something with the way software is created now? In general that just ignores the needs of people who don't have the benefit of learning the learning computers when they were 15. And  and we, based on our learnings, first you have to  we took a stand on that question. And based on everything we learned we strongly believe

[00:20:24] Mark: that there's a lot you can do to make a program super usable to someone who's  not, doesn't have that level of familiarity. And this is a program that when we built it, it was basically you don't need any extra equipment from, than what you already have. It works on any Windows pc, Math pc, or.

[00:20:47] Mark: So you basically just go to our link. You would download the program to your device, like you would download any program, like you would download Zoom or Skype or whatever. And the program actually uses [00:21:00] your web camera as the motion sensor. And that's another key piece because up to very recently, how do you, how could you track a person's.

[00:21:03] Mark:  In a way that's interactive in a that's that, that makes sense. You needed extra equipment, but with the latest innovations makes it really much more simple. So you would download the program. You basically stand in front of your laptop. You would see yourself on the screen, and your skier would be moving, for example, according to your movements.

[00:21:13] Mark: So if you squat the skier, If you ship to the left, the skier shift to the left, so the skier, the avatar, the character on the screen is reacting to your movements in real time. And you don't have to wear any special sensors. You just stand in front of your device. That's how it happens. The biggest challenge is convincing people how simple this is, because it's hard to believe that all you would need is your own whatever you already have.

[00:21:42] Mark: And  and you can just be in an environment where you're engaging in an exercise, a gamified exercise in this way. So that was a big step with  with new technology and new innovations that allowed us to build this program that we wanted to make very accessible, [00:22:00] usable by anyone and  in, in any in any context.

[00:22:03] Mark: So, So that's sort of the behind, underneath the hood about how the motion sensing piece works. Okay. 

[00:22:03] Janet: So you don't have to hold a device like in the game. You can dance or my son has that game and I've done that with him many times. And you hold a device and then the avatar on the TV knows if you're following the moves correctly and assesses points that way.

[00:22:22] Janet: So this is not like 

[00:22:24] Mark: that. That's right. So that's  that's the thing that's hard to believe, but that's how it is. You do not have to hold any device. You don't have to step onto any contraption. It's just turn on the program and the camera sees you doing your motions, and then that's all you need.

[00:22:46] Mark: Engage in these programs. So yeah.  It's pretty amazing when I when I first, when we first realized how far the technology has come and it was a real big life. Us it's amazing. We can really, now is the time where we can really do something [00:23:00] that could benefit and inspire a lot of people from their homes on their own devices in a way that's simple, affordable, and easy.

[00:23:09] Janet: Yeah, and you don't have to travel anywhere. So that takes another piece out of the situation. How do I get to the gym? Or if you have, don't have a car, it gets complicated. So I also wanna ask you, can a caregiver set this up for their loved one remote? 

[00:23:33] Mark: That's a good question.

[00:23:35] Mark:  There's definitely, this is a program that you would in install it on your own computer. So there's definitely ways to provide remote support in helping people get this set up.  So it's sort of it's definitely possible. So there's a lot you can do to help support your loved one, getting them set up with this program.

[00:23:48] Mark:  So I would say that there's a definitely a possibility for that. Okay. 

[00:23:48] Janet: Well that's good. I'm happy to hear that. , . And so now I want you to tell me about how people can access  this video game  your 

[00:23:58] Mark: program.[00:24:00] So basically right now at this point we are offering the program at no. So cuz what we're doing right now, we really want people to try out this program, give us feedback about it, tell us what they like, tell us what they wish was better.

[00:24:00] Mark: Right now our team's actively developing this program and we are looking for people to join us on our journey and give us feedback and be part of it. So that's why it's it's a no charge situation right now.  So we are going to, I'll provide you a link, Janet. You can provide that in, in your show notes and people can go to that.

[00:24:22] Mark: Take a look at the program request a free trial, and as soon as they put in that request, we'll get it on our side and we'll send them an invitation, a personal invitation with all the instructions they'll need to get started. It really does take about 15 minutes to get started. If you have any questions or anything, their phone numbers and emails like you can reach us pretty easily, but we are, we would love to have you on.

[00:24:45] Mark: For yourself, for for loved ones? For clients. We are definitely there to support you and we are just at the beginning of this journey and we're really excited to have people on board to, to give us their feedback, tell us what they [00:25:00] think, and  and we will keep at it and keep improving it. 

[00:25:02] Janet: Wow, that's great.

[00:25:04] Janet: And is there a limit once they activate the free trial, is there like a number of days that they can use it? The free trial is 

[00:25:11] Mark: over, so it's three months that we are giving that. Okay, great. Three months. Yeah, we're, right now it's just about getting the program out there, getting people using it and giving us feedback so, Three months is what's going on.

[00:25:25] Mark: Starting in a few months there's gonna be a different type of model. But for those of your listeners who are interested to, to get on board now, you're gonna have that three months to  to try out this program and we would really welcome you on there. So, Oh, well 

[00:25:39] Janet: that's fantastic because it takes about three.

[00:25:42] Janet: Of exercise before you see the benefit of it . So yeah, before you physically see the benefit of how it's changing your body. And, but you know, with the emotional, the mental benefits, you get that right away. You get that [00:26:00] just as you're doing it, and it lasts for hours and hours. I would always say to my patients, exercise is the gift that keeps on.

[00:26:09] Janet: It should, it really is. You get benefits with your mental health, your emotional health, your physical health. You sleep better, which is a huge part of aging well is sleeping well. And we all know that as we get older, it's harder to sleep throughout the night. We sleep fewer hours and not sleeping.

[00:26:37] Janet: Is going to have an impact on your fall risk, and it's also going to make you feel more confused, more lethargic. It just has so many negative impacts on how we function.  So. That's the main reason why I exercise almost every day is so that I can get a good night's sleep. . 

[00:26:56] Mark: Oh yeah. I'm right there [00:27:00] with you on that.

[00:27:00] Mark: Exercise has a way of releasing. Energy that's sort of bottled up a little bit. And where is that energy stored?  There's, it's stored in your muscles, so you know, you have a, an interaction at the store that maybe wasn't a super positive interaction and it kind of gets bottled up a little bit.

[00:27:20] Mark: And all these interactions. Little mini frustrations of life kind of get stored in our body. And what a, a good, positive exercise session is supposed to do, is supposed to just release that energy. So  and then that's why when you do have a good exercise session, you feel more relaxed, your muscles are more relaxed.

[00:27:40] Mark: They've kind of got a little bit of steam out and then when you can lie down, you can feel like your mind wants to sleep and and so does your body. And definitely exercise is a key piece of that. . 

[00:27:55] Janet: Yeah, I couldn't agree with you more. And I [00:28:00] recently published an article on my blog about the benefits of exercise.

[00:28:04] Janet: So I will include that in the show notes so that people can see there is real hard evidence to prove that exercise is the absolute best thing you can do for yourself at any age, but especially when we're older. So Mark, thank you so much for being with us today. I really enjoyed having you. I learned so much.

[00:28:28] Janet: You're such an eloquent speaker, and you made me excited about exercising using video games as a medium . 

[00:28:36] Mark: Well, it's been a super pleasure speaking with you, Janet. Thank you so much for inviting. 

[00:28:42] Janet: Yes, and I'd love to have you on if you have anything that changes with your program that you wanna tell us about or any new games please contact me and then we'll have you on the show again.

[00:28:54] Mark: Absolutely. I'm looking forward to it. Okay. Thank you,
Mark. Bye.