One of the fastest growing areas of healthcare delivery is in mobile apps. According to Manhattan Research, the number of adults in the US who used their mobile phones for health information and tools grew from 61 million in 2011 to 75 million this year. Using tablets for accessing health information and tools doubled over the past year: 15 million US adults used tablets for health information last year and 29 million used them for health activities this year.
Smartphones and tablets can help us count calories, keep track of our blood sugar levels, remind us to take medication, track blood pressure readings, and the list goes on. While many in the industry are waiting for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to weigh in on how the government will regulate the development of apps, the industry continues to grow.
Physical Therapy has been part of this evolution and there are some wonderful apps available that can assist with patient education as well as for use as actual clinical tools. While you can do your own search through the App Store, here are a few that you might find useful.
Muscle & Bone Anatomy 3D by Real Bodywork This app is available for $4.99 and is only available for the iPad. Amazing 3D images can really show your patients their injury through 3D diagrams and videos. It may help with your initial intake, which is when patients typically have the most questions and visual aids can be helpful.
Shoulder Decide, Knee Decide, and Spine Decide
These three apps were developed by ORCA MD and are available for free downloads on both the iPad and iPhone. These apps provide easy to understand language and images that can help patients understand the anatomy and can be used to enhance knowledge of their condition and why you’re recommending specific treatments.
Goniometer - For $2.99 and available for both iPhone and iPad, the Goniometer is a device that measures angles or allows an object to rotate to a specific position. One of its most common uses is measuring a patient's range-of-motion (ROM) for a particular joint. This measurement is used to determine the extent of a patient's joint injury and the expected speed of their recovery. You simply place your iPhone next to the joint to be measured in line with the axis, use your finger to drag the arms to match the anatomical alignment to bony prominences and it gives you the angle.
CORE – Clinical Orthopedic Exam. This app is a little more expensive than the others at $39.99 and is available for both iPhone and iPad. CORE is an expert reference tool for diagnosing musculoskeletal and orthopedic disorders. It contains over 400 clinical tests with descriptions on how to perform them, video demonstrations, diagnostic properties and links to supporting medical references.
According to TopOrthoApps.com (Mobile App Reviews for Orthopaedic Surgeons - Featured by AAOS) - “CORE has set the standard for a clinical exam app. The most striking feature of this app, in addition to the vast collection of tests and videos, is actually the “properties” tab. For every test, data is presented regarding the sensitivity, specificity, likelihood ratio, accuracy and other relevant statistical tests based on primary literature references. These lists are incredibly complete. This is a feature that I have not seen replicated by any other orthopaedic reference."
Medical Spanish - If your practice is comprised of Spanish speaking patients, you may find this app helpful.
It is available for $5.99 for both the iPad and iPhone and has specific muscle pain section. An added benefit, is knowing that profits from your purchase are reinvested into local free health clinics and to medical relief efforts in Haiti.
Tens of millions of people are using apps to access health information and tools. As a clinician, you need to keep current with your patients and make these tools work for you and for them.
Hopefully you find some of these helpful. We are interested to hear your opinion on the use of apps in your practice.
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