Residents of long-term care communities aren’t usually avid bike riders, but a company called Motitech is working to change that.
The Norway-based company has taken the Norwegian concept of slow TV, in which the Norwegian Broadcasting Corp. broadcasts hours-long slow-moving videos of nature, cityscapes, train rides and more, and applied it to shorter videos that riders can watch as they pedal. It increases engagement and holds their interest more, which are not always easy to do with those in long-term care, and especially for people with dementia.
“We know there is a lot of benefit from physical activity. Everybody knows that,” said Jon Ingar Kjenes, Motitech owner. “The big challenge is how do you motivate this population to be physically active? How do you facilitate that without them losing interest in a day or two, but make them want to repeat the exercise?”
The technology integrates with several types of exercycles that are designed for use by people with physical impairments, including those that also have hand-operated pedals and motors that allow for passive or assisted pedaling. The app tracks distance, resistance and ride time for each cyclist
Users can choose from 1,700 videos in the Motiview library that freelancers filmed using stabilized cameras. They depict scenes recorded in 35 countries, and when a customer buys a license to use the software, the company creates local videos from that area that all license holders can access. The company publishes 300 to 500 new videos each year. The idea is that riders will find imagery that will spark memories – a key part of maintaining engagement.
“Your memories are not necessarily where you live when you are in a long-term care facility,” Ingar Kjenes said. “It might be from where you traveled, where you lived and where you grew up, and that’s what we are trying to bring back.”
Motitech offers a laptop with the application pre-loaded, or customers can buy a license just for the software. Right now, locations must have a Wi-Fi connection to access the videos, but the company is working on a version that can be used offline. Users would still need a Wi-Fi connection to access the videos for download, but Motiview can be used offline after downloading the videos.
Ingar Kjenes was running a TV company in Bergen, Norway, in 2012 when the city’s department for senior care reached out about making videos of local sites in hopes of getting senior citizens at long-term care communities, adult day care centers, senior community centers and rehabs more inclined to ride exercycles.
That year, a pilot test of the videos showed that within six months, seniors not only stayed on the bikes longer, but they asked to use them. Additionally, they engaged with the videos and one another – telling stories and singing along with the music. Based on those results, Ingar Kjenes founded Motitech in 2013.
Today, between 6,000 and 8,000 cyclists use Motiview in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, England and Canada. It plans to add Australia and the United States this year.
To promote use, Motitech hosts the annual Road Worlds for Seniors Warriors competition for all Motiview users. The person who rides the greatest cumulative distance in four weeks wins. Last year, about 2,500 people competed. The winner traveled almost 1,200 miles.
Stephanie Kanowitz is a Fairfax, Va.-based freelance writer, fitness instructor, mother and caregiver to her mother, who was diagnosed with dementia in 2012. Stephanie earned journalism degrees from the University of Florida (bachelor’s) and American University (master’s), and her work has appeared in The Washington Post, Washington Post Express, Red Tricycle, the Washington Diplomat and the Kveller blog.