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Our clinical environment is changing with the advancements in technology. The iPad can be a useful tool to bridge the internet gap by making software tools and information available at the point of service with your patients for education and specific clinic tasks.

Staying with our theme this month of use of the iPad in the PT clinical setting, here are my favorite iPad apps that are available for Physical Therapists. 

To explore iPad apps, simply to the App Store in iTunes on your Windows or Mac computer, then choose “App Store” at the top of your screen in the navigation bar.  Once you are into the App Store, you will see that there are quite a few “Medical” apps available, and with a quick search, apps that are specific for PTs.  Most are not free in this category, but all have reviews and descriptions that you can browse through before buying.  We will also be reviewing some of these Apps in our free webinar on "The iPad for PTs" next week on either Thursday January  27 11am EST or Saturday January 29 12pm EST.

There are 3 main types of iPad apps for PTs:    

  1. Patient education
  2. Staff/student education/reference
  3. Actual clinical tools

Here are my top 10 iPad apps by topic:

iPad Apps for PT Patient Education
Having the Internet accessible with the completely mobile iPad device is so handy to show patients anatomy, diagrams, and videos during initial evaluation or treatment sessions.  My most used app for discussing injuries with my patients is “Shoulder Decide”, “Knee Decide”, or “Spine Decide” which shows common treatment approaches and injury descriptions that patients can relate to.  I usually send them home to view these more in depth if they want further information. As you know more patients are coming in “educated” as to their diagnoses, but, as a PT, I pride myself in being a musculoskeletal specialist with the knowledge to further educate my patients.  This includes directing  them to reputable sites to view information. “Muscle & Bone Anatomy 3D” is a nice way to show your patients their injury anatomy through 3-D and zoomable diagrams and videos for $7.99. “Pocket Body” is another anatomy app that is a little more costly ($19.99) but shows more clinical relevance with its ability to peel layers away to show depth.  This tool is great for both patients and student PTs. 

iPad Apps for Staff/Student Education and References
We all have our "brain farts" or "senior moments" (or in my case, "pregnancy brain"). Being able to look up something instantly can make life much easier. Also when you have student PTs completing their internships in our clinic, these apps have been very valuable to have on the iPad.  The “Muscle Anatomy” app is a basic review providing muscle origin, insertion, nerve and blood supply when you need a quick reference guide.  It costs $.99 to download is a great no frills reference tool. “Pocket Body” and “Muscle & Bone Anatomy 3D” mentioned above provide quizzes that our clinical instructors like to give on specific body parts. “CORE: Clinical Orthopedic Exam” priced at $39.99 has been a very useful reference for our PTs to look up specific tests and measures used in our objective findings.  It is very easy to navigate and has more than enough tests available to review.  I really like the up to date information on functional relevance and evidence based testing that is provided for each exam.

iPad Apps for Clinical Use
My favorite and most used tool on the iPhone is the “Goniometer”.  It's available as an iPhone app for $3.99, but it can be used on the iPad.  My patients really love it and think its cool. It’s also very accurate and easy to use.  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. Lots of oohs and ahhs from patients. “Stop Watch and Timersavailable on iPad for $.99is a handy tool that allows you to have multiple timers going at once, which you can label.  This helps with our Medicare patients in gaining more accurate measures of how long they are spending doing their exercises and also for use with Outcome Measure tools that require timing.  “Medical Spanish” ($4.99) helps with translation when necessary for Spanish speaking patients and has specific muscle pain section. For the front office and medical billers, “ICD9 Consult 2011is much cheaper ($14.99) than the paper manuals and makes it easy to access diagnosis codes.

Also available on iPad are downloadable podcasts from PT specific communities such as the American Physical Therapy Association, Pediatric Physical Therapy section, PT Talker and various Journals including Bone & Joint Surgery.

What other iPad apps are useful for PTs? Let us know!


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