Aspire for More with Erin

The Desire to Win is Alive inside Senior Living Communities...a conversation with Craig Waters

March 28, 2024 Erin Thompson
Aspire for More with Erin
The Desire to Win is Alive inside Senior Living Communities...a conversation with Craig Waters
Show Notes Transcript

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Erin:

Hi, and welcome back to another episode of the aspire for more with Aaron podcast, where I have as a guest today, Mr. Craig waters, who is from the company Trazer. He is our sales and marketing. Guru of everything Tracer and I'm really excited to have a conversation with him today. So welcome Craig.

Craig:

thank you Really? really happy to be here and excited to have this discussion with you

Erin:

Yes. Everybody who listens and follows me on LinkedIn knows that I love sports. It's my thing. And over the last few years, We have connected and I have found your content to be interesting. When you talk about the YMCA and college sports and senior living. And I'm thinking to myself, I can understand YMCA and senior living with the silver sneakers and all of that, but then you start talking about collegiate sports, football, different things, like how can a company. Merge into all of that. So let's start there. Let's dive into how can universities use your product and senior living. So teach us what Tracer is.

Craig:

Yeah, I think that's one of the things that makes the technology so exciting is our overall mantra is we want to help everybody. B O D Y move better. And that's five to 105. And people of all. all capabilities. whether you be injured, whether you're in a, with a Walker or a cane, whether you have a prosthetic, or you're an Olympic athlete, movement is movement and how the mind and body work together to create movement is across the continuum. of age and abilities. So we started in collegiate sports. Alabama was our first client and customer, roll tide.

Erin:

Roll tide, baby.

Craig:

Nick Saban saw the technology at the fountain blue. And, he said, I told his director of sports medicine, Jeff Allen, he goes, I have to have this. this is pretty, this is really cool. And I've got to have this. I want it at our facility next week. And so literally, Jeff got on the phone with our co founder, Barry French, and they had the unit down there the next week. This is, I think. back in 2016 or 17 and, that was the start for us, in terms of the 1st, kind of commercial unit, out in the field. and, it was very successful there. They used as a showcase piece. It was, we started to evolve into other. Other, collegiate teams, Georgia LSU, a bunch of different collegiate programs, and that really got us into sports medicine and physical therapy. and then from there, we, we just learned that in there, 1 of the big issues in physical therapy was false. And that naturally progressed us over to starting to work with senior groups as we got introduced to those. So it really is a technology that is trains both mind and body and can be used, for all different populations. And, that kind of gets it full circle, back to where, we're working in all those industries today.

Erin:

What is Tracer? How does it work? Does it mean, how does it help Alabama win?

Craig:

I'm presumptuous to say, there's a lot of things that go into Alabama women winning. from the coaching to the discipline staff and all the great things that, they do as a team to put that, put those athletes and give them the best chance to win every weekend. And I'd say Tracer is just another technology that does that as well. It allows, it allows them to optimize movement and performance and know how well you're moving. the key with Tracer is that it tells you how well you move. If I asked you today, how well you're moving, you really couldn't tell me. you're getting around, you're not, maybe you're not in physical therapy or you're not hurt or but you don't know that typically until you get hurt. and Tracer can assess you show your deficits, allow you to work on those. and progress them to improve performance, get back from injury or prevent an injury like, like a fall.

Erin:

So how does it prevent an injury like a fall?

Craig:

it, what it's doing is it's mitigating risk, never going to stop. We're never going to stop every fall. It's that's not, it can't stop every injury, but by understanding The risk factors, your asymmetries in movement. I move better to my right than my left. I'm weak on one side. If I can know that information, then I can correct for it. the more I have those deficits, the more chance I am a falling or suffering an ACL. If my knees buckle in, when I'm doing like a squat, I, I probably have a higher risk of an ACL because, my. I'm a really high degree or, I'm not in the best position foundationally, for my knees. if I've got pelvic tilt, I may be favoring one hip or the other. that may be a hip issue that is going to make me at a higher risk of fall. So it's really about assessing A user, and then taking that data to allow you to correct for it and make optimize somebody's, movement, both mind and body.

Erin:

So how do you, so is it, do they wear something? how does it get the data?

Craig:

Yeah, there's no wearable it's captured through motion capture. So a camera, an optical camera, which is a little piece of hardware about the size of a. an iPad, but a little bit thicker. So there's a camera in there that captures 32 points on your body as you're standing in front of it. Then that camera also that camera and that unit has a mini computer that drives our software. And so you're looking at a TV screen and you are, there's all sorts of activities that you need to do, but you're moving in free space in front of that camera. it's, and so as you're moving, it's picking up millions of data points about you that camera is and then our software. Splices out that information into what's relevant about how well you move 1 way versus another. How fast are you? How well does your mind process where I need to go next? So my reaction times. And that all allows you to then from that report, you can track time over time and my improving or getting worse. And, what do I need to do next? It can be used a lot of different ways by. a caregiver or a, athletic trainer or a physical therapist, or someone in the military.

Erin:

That is fascinating. that truly is. Knowledge is power, but really clarity is freedom. You know what I mean? like you're really clear on how you can. Move and stay safe. And if you're an athlete, what sides are your best, or do I want to focus on strengthening one side? And if you're a resident, it's. And you're able to connect the information with, implementing things to keep you safe. That really is amazing.

Craig:

Yeah. and it's all engaging and gamified too. So you feel like you're playing a game as you're moving around, you're moving around in this immersive simulation on the screen, your avatar is, but you're moving free space in front, making that avatar move. And You feel like you're playing a game, but the data that's coming off of that, I can sit with you. If you've just done the activity, I can go over your report with you right away. And I could say, here's where the things we want to work on with you, Aaron. And here's where I want to, here's my goal for you over the next four weeks or whatever period of time. Here's what I want to get to. And we can track that over time. So it's very, the data becomes very engaging as well as the activity itself. Because you look forward to that next session. You want to improve upon

Erin:

this.

Craig:

And it's funny because we thought originally, like Jeff Allen said to us that, all his players are gamers. And so they love the games in Tracer, not just the, not just all the movement activities. We have games in there as well. And, it turns out, I'd say that the seniors are actually much more. Loving the games and are also probably just as competitive or more than some of the athletes. it's crazy. they can't wait. They're like, they come to the next session and they're asking, so what was my high score? How many targets did I hit last time? And it's so they're, they were looking forward to their next session. So it becomes not just a injury prevention tool for them or fall prevention tool. It becomes an activity of a daily living activity that they have fun doing.

Erin:

I can attest. I can tell you that. the motivation of beating and becoming competitive and even if you're just competing against yourself does not go away just because our bodies aren't bigger, faster, stronger anymore. I have seen very competitive, residents inside senior living, even when it comes to bingo and bingo gets such a bad rap sometimes. I have seen very But if you have winnings, earnings tied into bingo, like one of my communities had this wonderful idea of an auction to where for every activity that you come to, for every new resident that you welcome, for every, win in bingo or poquino that you get activity dollars. And so sometimes bingo, it was 5 bingo or 10 bingo or whatever. So it wasn't about the game. It was about how much money am I going to win? And at the end of the month, they were able to then do auctions and buy things that they wanted to buy. I was shocked, honestly, when I saw this in process and how competitive. Each activity was because they wanted the dollar and then how competitive auction was because they wanted that item. And so even with my own grandmother, if she wasn't in the top three of earnings, she was very disappointed with herself, and it's just funny how people don't understand. How gamifying something really does change. It can really add value to somebody's life. So I can only imagine what an actual game that's supposed to be helping me and giving me information would make somebody feel like as they improve and as they get better.

Craig:

yeah, there's a couple of things to dive into off that. It's First of all, because you're having to react to stimuli that are in the screen, and you have that reacting is also tying your mind back into the movements that you're making. And so that's very important because, if you're, if you could trip on a sock, or if you have to stop, it's, or if you're driving a car, being able to react correctly. Matters a lot, for a senior in a senior living facility, it's it can be life or death. a fall can be a very catastrophic event and it's very scary. I know my mom always talks about that's 1 of her biggest fears is falling. But, to get them on this and playing games and then, but then seeing the improvement that they have, we did a study. In 20 facilities and over a five or so week period, and we were able to lower falls in those communities by 30 plus percent, but improve their movement metrics, their mobility and their reaction times by. 30 to 70 percent or more. And that impact is beyond just in that activity. they have their friends asking them, hey, what are you doing? it's like, when you've lost weight, you get asked what you're doing, but you're moving better and you're back in activities in the community. Somebody's asking, what are you doing? what got you back on your feet and off that Walker and back to a cane or everybody they wanted to know. And, that's part of the joy that we get to see every day too, is. the improvement and the keeping these people living and living their life to the fullest in their community. that's very exciting as well. it's fun to work with to an Alabama, but it's almost fun to watch Mary do a dance on Tracer or. Brenda to come back and ask for a high score every day and just see her eyes light up. she's going after it again. that's almost more exciting. And it's certainly more long term impactful. to them.

Erin:

Yeah. that's like really adding value to someone's life, giving somebody hope, where somebody else may have said, this is how you're going. This is pretty much the state you may be in for the rest of your life. All of a sudden you've been given hope and there's no greater feeling than that, no, no greater feeling than that. So you're in senior living communities now and you're seeing benefits. What do you find, because with my work and a tech company now that has visions of wanting to change and add value, to, to the long term care arena, what do you find as the biggest barriers in introducing new tech, which seems to be a buzz because, Change is hard, but change is coming. So I feel like the more that we talk about as vendors in the tech world, so to speak. what we see the barriers are, I think better. We can serve people and add value to their lives. So what do you think it is?

Craig:

I think, I think you're right. I think technology, scares some people are afraid of change. they say the status quo is the, it's the biggest barrier to innovation and improvement. And yet we know the statistics are not good. in some areas around senior living, our populations are getting older. Some of the, The amplitude of the patients and the senior and the residents is getting. It has gotten worse with cobit and sedentary lifestyle there. so we have to figure out. Some of the existing measures aren't necessarily working. they're good in their own right, but they're not necessarily working. There are a lot of, there's a lot of sensors and things that you put to in rooms to try to track. When somebody gets up out of bed, those are all good. they're good and they are going to help somewhat, but there's probably nothing that can help more than making somebody move and react better. In terms of just their own confidence, their own, just it can make a huge impact in their life. I'm getting them out of staying active. We were meant as human beings to stay as active as we can. yeah, when we're not, it's not a good path when we get too sedentary and. our bodies stop moving. Yeah. So I think, so tech adoption is the 1st, I think, ease of use, you have to take away and make that integration with the facility really. Very easy. we have learned over the years that one of the things that we had to do better, and we've added it, is our customer success team. So now when we put a technology in, we're on that journey with you as long as that technology is there and we hope it's there forever. because our job is to continuously make it better every year in year out, and add things to it, add new activities, and to keep it better and relevant. for the facility, but we have to be a partner to you and have the tech support and the customer team that can walk you through any issues that come up, explain things that you can explain to the resident, retrain your staff when you have turnover, all those things have to be pretty seamless to make adoption more successful. In those environments, and I think the 3rd and last that I'll mention, I think results, I think you have to be able to show the impact you're having. And, as much as I love when we can show statistics of, better. lower risk factors of falls, lower falls, if they've been tracking them year over year and things like that, the biggest. Thing that you can't quantify is what you're doing for that community. What you're doing for that family, for the falls that you're saving or that aren't happening because you lower them in a commute that impact is. It's somewhat priceless and, that's, that's not dollars and cents or ROI, but that's has a huge impact on the community. It's a positive thing. It's it feels good in a, environment that. falls can be very negative in a community. and when you lose, when people fall on their hurt and you, everybody's worried about them. And it's not always a good thing.

Erin:

I can only imagine being a sales director inside of a community or an executive director or just an activities director doing a tour and saying, we have this amazing product that basically analyzes our body and our movement. And can actually teach us how to prevent falls, to mitigate those risks and to have fun while doing it. I can only imagine the impressive response of a family member like, what does that do? And then for them to be like, can I try this? Can I try this myself? That would be a lot of fun.

Craig:

Yeah, the reactions are the best when you get someone on the technology and you see them on there for the 1st time at the universe. So the universal reaction is a smile. You start selling as you're playing the game and you're like, yeah, and you're like, you think you're awkward and everything else, but you just forget your surroundings and you just immerse yourself in the game. and play and that's part of our goal to is to make play. Okay. because play is something that we grew up in as a child and just 1 play is a really good thing. And again, like you said before, that competitive doesn't end wanting to play things does not either.

Erin:

It really doesn't. It sounds fascinating. Do they wear goggles when they're doing this?

Craig:

No, there's no thing attached. The only thing that you potentially wear and you don't have to, unless you're tracking heart rate is a heart rate monitor, which you can wear those armbands. But other than that, you wear no wearables. Which is also great. So your movement is very free and efficient. what we're doing in that space while you're moving is you're moving analogous to what you would in the real world. A lot of the tests for steady and things like that have been around from the CDC for years. It's a 5 minute walk test. So you're walking in a straight line around a room and tracking. That's not really the real world. most times you're walking and maybe you have to change directions and move to the side. Maybe you have to. Step back, tracers getting you to move multi directionally within that about a 10 by 10 space. from a space constraint, it's very, it's about a 10 by 10 non dedicated space to use it. which allows you to use the space in front of it. when tracers not in use, you can use it for other activities and things. But when you want to use it, it's, not that much space. It's also portable, so you can, you put it on a stand that is a rolling stand. So you can move it from room to room. So you can take it from the gym to the cafeteria and run a, a contest say, let's say, let's do a random contest. Everybody that participates today, we're going to put into a hat and they earn back to your example. They earn bingo points or dollars

Erin:

for

Craig:

participating. And you can have, the most improved or the most, whatever. And you can give things away. All while helping them without them even thinking about it get better.

Erin:

That sounds like so much fun. That really does. have you ever seen where any of your, like the associates do it?

Craig:

Oh yeah. Yeah, that's really, that's part of the, that's part of the training. is that. We tell them the best way to truly understand what your senior is going through, what your resident is going through is by getting it on, getting on it yourself. So get on there and do some activities and track yourself at the same time. Yeah, we often don't talk about that, but. In reality, the residences could use it for all their staff and make sure their staff is saying healthy, both mind and body wise as well.

Erin:

That's amazing. Do you have any fun success stories where, you have seen a real improvement inside the life of someone living inside a community?

Craig:

Yeah. we hear different ones all the time, but, one I like to tell is, about Luke, 86 year old, veteran army veteran, was on a, he was on a Walker. He had multiple falls. He had contusions on his face from the falls and things too. And his goal was to get rid of the Walker and be able to get back to dancing with his wife. in his community and he got on Tracer and he was doing Tracer three to four times a week. Coming in for the sessions and he was able to gradually he started one of the activities as a 90 second activity. And the 1st time he did it, he could only hit 3 targets in that 10 by 10 space, moving around the screen around in front of the screen. And over time, he was able to get off the Walker and get to what he called his Moses cane. So you have a wooden cane and He would walk with that wooden cane in the, doing the activity and his physical therapist would hold the back of his t shirt just to give him that comfort that she was there. The nice thing is the computer does not pick up the person behind him, as long as they don't get in front of the camera and him, so it always picks up the person in front. And so he would do that and he got up to hitting 18 targets in about five weeks. Andres was able to, get back to, able to do things that he hadn't been able to do in a long time. So that was pretty exciting.

Erin:

Yeah, that sounds great. Now, but anybody, if The activity director could be in the room when they were doing this, correct? It doesn't have to be a physical therapist or it

Craig:

does not. It's not a, it's not a high technical training. we guide everyone through, online, like a one on one, a two on one basics of Tracer. onboarding and get them on board so that they can run those sessions very easily with their person.

Erin:

That sounds so fun.

Craig:

it is fun. It definitely is fun.

Erin:

And so the big mission that Tracer has, what would you say? if you were. In very different verticals, right? You are in collegiate sports. You are in the YMCA's. You are in senior living. What's the because that's fascinating to me just in general of. All the people you serve,

Craig:

right?

Erin:

but I guess it's just the study of movement, right?

Craig:

It really is. And that's why it's able to cross over to so many different verticals. It's fascinating. Yeah. But our, our bigger mission is really, helping millions of people move better, and in an engaging and fun way. That they look forward to continuing to do it, for their lifespan and by doing that, we're going to save we're addressing multi billion dollar issues in health care falls is a 60 billion dollar a year issue. For seniors right now, and with the demographics and where things are going, it's projected to be 100. Dollar a year issue by 2030. So we've got to do something better. Musculoskeletal injuries, ACLs, Achilles, things like that. It's 162 billion dollar issue. So we're addressing very high multi billion dollar issues. And if we do them well, we're changing people's, the way they live and, keeping them vital and vibrant. In everything that they do day to day. So it's a big mission, but it's, our, the cost for our system compared to what we're saving. it's, de minimis compared to what we're saving long term.

Erin:

Yeah. it really does help the proverbial comment inside senior living, shut the back door, as. unfriendly as that may sound to an outsider of the industry. if knowledge is power, and you understand the way your body moves and the strengths and the weaknesses of it, you really can make a difference, makes an individual care plan, very individualized. And

Craig:

I, I think when I look at the, when I look at senior living and seeing where things are going. in that world, I think there's an obligation that on the facilities to provide the best health and I know they know this already the best health and safety for the residents, as possible and, I'd to think that we're 1 of those options that can really be a very strong value add for them with all the other great things that they're already doing.

Erin:

Yeah, eventually, the customers will demand high tech solutions inside a community and we may not be there yet, but we are certainly moving very fast towards that, that demand,

Craig:

and we know the costs associated with, unfortunately, the cost of associated with losing a resident. the cost to, market to another person, the high emotional cost of losing somebody. when you look at the, it becomes 1 that you say, can I afford not to try something like this? To give it a shot.

Erin:

Yeah, it's true. It's true. It's fascinating to me where tech is taking us never in my life. What I've thought that we are going to be able to see things like this inside of a community, which really is exciting and mind blowing, and I bet y'all have so much data and can just tell so many stories. and that's fascinating to me too.

Craig:

Yeah.

Erin:

Who knows what the next 20 years are going to hold, it's exciting.

Craig:

you're hitting on something else too, is the watching the people doing this. they have stories to tell, and that's part of, that's part of how we promote our content as to tell their stories, we want to tell stories of these successes, we want to tell stories of families staying together and doing the activities that they love to do, that's really the, that's the really fun part is telling those stories because on the back end, we're making a difference in. So that they can continue to do that.

Erin:

yeah, it's fun. It's fun when emotions and tech can merge together where it doesn't feel so cold, and that's the exciting piece of it. That's

Craig:

exciting. That's well put.

Erin:

it sounds fascinating and I can't wait to see it in action. I hope I get to see it in action one day and, learn my weaknesses and my strengths, that would be a lot of fun. but I'm glad, I guess we can't say it's an Alabama secret because other colleges now use it, but at least it's another way of saying just how innovative the goat Nick Saban really was. Roll Tide

Craig:

having, been down there and meeting all the different people that, he brought in it's an impressive, it's an impressive place and there, I always, the thing I always love best about what I learned from some of those visits is how they stay in the, they stay in the moment. They are focused on what's next they don't get caught up in too much of it. They learn from everything they do, but they stay right. They stay on what they can affect at that point in time. And that's the way he coaches to just stay in the moment. that next moment is what matters,

Erin:

right?

Craig:

and that's the way watching you, that's the way, you are like that every day is a new day. Let's attack

Erin:

it. It's true. I think I do that. I'm more aware of it now, although that there are parts of my journey that I have, that we all allow the past to dictate what the future is. But once you actually build that muscle to where no, it's no longer allowed. Then you really can stay present and all these college coaches, the really good ones are really good about that. And we as leaders can learn from that. No, we're not making millions of dollars. No, the stakes. you could say that the stakes are really high, especially inside senior living. but yes, the more that we stay present and appreciate the present and work towards building the future that we want, it does make a difference. Make life a little easier and in high pressure stakes, for sure. I love reading some of your blogs that you write, especially when your daughters were running those marathons and then you're an active person and it's just a really great fit for you and Tracer and, all your content about that. And this, I can only imagine what. an 86 year old housewife learning her movement for the first time and realizing those things. Like I can only imagine what that face looks like and what that, wakes up inside of her. And that makes me smile.

Craig:

you're just giving me goosebumps now. cause I've seen that and it's really cool. yeah, and the connections that you have with people as well.

Erin:

Yeah. You just learn about your body in a new way and there's something really empowering about that. And to be able to give that gift to somebody, living out their final decades, it's a great thing. It's a great mission. So

Craig:

thank you. And thank you for, thank you for having me on here. it's awesome to get a chance to. Talk and share with your audience.

Erin:

Yes. Thank you for coming. I appreciate it. And for all of my listeners, as always aspire for more for you.