Dr. Ryan Comeau: Helping People Over 50 Move Better and Pain-Free

Dr. Ryan Comeau is CEO, and co-founder of a company called Kinetisense located in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada. Kinetisense is the world’s first markerless 3D motion capture analysis tool. It allows human performance and rehabilitation practitioners to assess biomechanics in real time objectively. It is the software of choice for many world- leading professional sports organizations, research, health and wellness clinics. One of the reasons that I am excited to interview Dr. Comeau is that the company helps people move better. If you move better, you will feel better. If you feel better, you will move more. If you move more, you will live longer and healthier. As we know, this is especially true for people over 50.

Please share a little introduction and background about yourself, your company, and the journey that you went through to bring your product to market.

Dr. Ryan Comeau: I am a Doctor of Chiropractic by trade. The conception or the idea of Kinetisense, started about four years ago when I was in my last year of university studies and was in a biomechanics course. I remember quite distinctly the biomechanics professor standing in front of the class and pulling out an old little plastic tool and explaining to my classmates and myself that these small devices have been around for over 150 years and they are still the gold standards that are used today for assessing biomechanics. Then he continued to explain how these tools, the goniometer, and inclinometer, really are inaccurate especially when you are comparing readings from two or more practitioners. So, from practitioner to practitioner. This disparity started the ball rolling in my goal of trying to find a better solution and looking into how practitioners and trainers assess movement. Moreover, what kind of impact this has on the patient through this process of assessment.

It was quite amazing to me when I started to dive into the research that over 75% of practitioners, we are talking medical doctors, physiotherapists, chiropractors, merely eyeball their assessments, meaning that they use no tools at all to try to look for improvements in range of motion or posture, functional movement. That was startling to me. We talk about how medicine and rehabilitation are supposed to be, so evidence-based. We look at factors such as medical, legal, motor vehicle accidents, where having data is everything. We are not assessing objectively. This lack of objectivity became an essential priority for me to investigate and try to find a better solution.

It was around that time where we were looking at different wearable solutions. We were looking at various technologies where we could help to make this an objective and efficient analysis for practitioners and we came across the Kinect camera, which is the X-Box Kinect camera created by Microsoft. We realized the system was accurate, especially with proper algorithms and customized algorithms, we can make our system very, very accurate and assess movement of all three planes of movement without having to use wearable markers. This approach was very important to the practitioners that we were speaking with. When we were talking about this concept, it had to be fast, it had to be objective, and it had to have very high efficiency. We then found a development team in Athens, Greece, and that is our CTO of Kinetisense, Vangos Pterneas, who is one of the top Kinect developers in the world, and we developed a team. We formed a team of practitioners and developers to build Kinetisense. It started out as a tool for assessing joint range of motion and quickly progressing to a 3D posture analysis system and then to a balance analysis system and now a functional movement system.

 One of the cornerstones of fitness or rehabilitation, even training for peak performance is doing a functional movement assessment. Can you drill down a little bit about how that is currently being done using those antiquated tools and why doing a movement assessment is so valuable to both the practitioner and the client?

Dr. Ryan Comeau: I just wanted to go back to the introduction, Phil, where you mentioned how movement is everything. It is. Especially in our population over the age of 50. We start to see a decline in some of the functional movements that we should be able to do after the age of 50. We begin to lose the ability to do things like a hip hinge. We start to lose strength in the hips and mobility. These different things that put us at risk of falls or not being able to do the daily activities that we usually love to do. With Kinetisense, we want to remember that function is always on a scale. It does not matter what your age is. You are either moving towards better function as it pertains to movement or you are moving towards worse function. Up to this point, there have been assessments that are standardized to look at where do you fit on that scale. Are you high function with movement or low function? Then, trying to follow those patterns based on multiple assessments.

Up to this point, these functional movement assessments, for the most part, have been done visually. What this means is that the practitioner will take that patient through a series of movements or tests and will try to eyeball and figure out what the score for each one of those movements is. Kinetisense, trying to add objectivity to this, we collect over 2,000 data points of the body, and we look at how the body reacts in all planes. We look at all joints as a person goes through motion. We look at things like power. We look at things like balance. With this type of technology, a couple of things. We get a standardized assessment. So, one practitioner is going to score the same in Canada that they would score that same patient in Germany or Europe, which then leads to a better diagnosis of movement efficiencies and a better prescription of movement rehab, leading to overall improved treatment, overall improved care and overall improved results.

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Phil Faris

Phil Faris is a Best-Selling Author, business consultant, radio host for Never Too Late for Fitness Radio, and contributing writer for Business Innovators Magazine covering Influencers, Innovators, and Trendsetters in Business, Health, Fitness, and Leadership.