Rehab platform aims to keep injured athletes connected during recovery

‘When I hit the milestone of my first run, I shared a post online. I was overwhelmed by the response’

‘You can feel a disconnect from previous team-mates and friends, a loss of identity as an athlete.’ File photograph: Getty

‘You can feel a disconnect from previous team-mates and friends, a loss of identity as an athlete.’ File photograph: Getty

 

In 2019, a serious sports injury left Conor Motyer facing two years of rehabilitation. What began to affect him most as he went through the process was the toll the rehab was taking on his mental health.

“You can feel a disconnect from previous team-mates and friends, a loss of identity as an athlete, a loss of motivation and an overall sense of loneliness in the recovery process,” he says. It was this experience that encouraged Motyer to set up Brace Social, a rehab platform designed to bring a social dimension to injury recovery.

“When I hit the milestone of my first run, I shared a post online. I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of kind words, congratulations and encouragement that returned,” Motyer says. “In the aftermath of that post, I was struck by two things: how isolated the process had been up to that point; and how feeling ‘seen’ by others gave me the energy I needed to keep pushing.

“In an age where we can connect instantly in our social, professional and fitness lives, it seemed needless to feel alone through this physical and mental challenge. The more people I talked with to understand their injury experience, the greater my conviction that there had to be a way to bring a social connection to injury recovery.”

Motyer founded Brace Social in May and the company is based at Nova, UCD’s innovation hub. Motyer is a chartered accountant who had worked with KPMG and with tech company Learnsignal in an operations role while studying for a postgraduate diploma in technology commercialisation from NUIG.

“I did the course to better understand the process of turning innovative ideas into viable businesses and began working on the concept for Brace during it,” Motyer says. “The aim is to positively reframe the recovery experience through connection and empowerment by helping users manage the physical and mental aspects of their recovery.”

Brace is made up of three components. The first is an injury tracking management system with reminder notifications, gamification features and easy progress monitoring. The second is a central hub where users can share insights and advice about their experiences during rehabilitation and the third element is an online community of “recoverees” who support each other by sharing motivation and marking milestones to keep their progress on track.

Motyer says the social and community elements are Brace’s clear USPs as existing physio and social fitness apps have no social element and are not specifically tailored for injury recovery.

“There are community data platforms that generate insights into lived experiences of illness treatments, but they aren’t applicable to muscular-skeletal recovery,” he says. “We aim to sit at the cross-section by bringing social connected fitness to the injury recovery process and generating community data on that experience.

Social support

“The overarching theme within academic research is that social support is fundamental during recovery to overcome isolation, loss of motivation and social disconnect – yet there is currently no platform on the market that appropriately values the importance of social support.”

Brace is aimed both at those recovering from injury and the wider rehabilitative community such as physiotherapists.

Ultimately, the company will make its money by charging for extra features behind a pay wall but, for now, the beta version of Brace (available for Apple and Android) is free to use as Motyer builds up a customer base and hones his offering from feedback and user interaction with the platform.

As Brace is only up and running a few months, it has yet to get into the serious business of spending and raising money. The platform was developed in-house, and Brace has reached its launch point with sweat equity and about €10,000 in hard cash. Motyer’s next step is to begin investigating pre-seed funding options.

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