Physical Therapists’ Guide to PT, OT, and SLP Apps

Here are some of the best apps out there for physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech-language pathologists.

What apps are available for physical therapy?

Staff/Student Education and References

  • Muscle Premium contains 3D models of more than 600 muscles, 200 bones, and hundreds of ligaments, peripheral nerves, and bursae for $24.99, making it a great resource for staff and students to review muscle origin, insertion, and nerve and blood supply. Plus, users can test their knowledge with dozens of muscle and bone quizzes.
    Apple: Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices with iOS 10.0 and up.
    Android: Compatible with Android devices that support OS 4.4 and up.

  • Learn Muscles: Anatomy is a simple reference, testing, and educational tool that breaks down 125 muscle images by name, action, origin, and insertion for only $2.99. Users also can use the app to create their own multiple choice quizzes.
    Apple: Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices with iOS 8.0 and up.
    Android: Compatible with Android devices that support OS 4.0.3 and up.

  • Muscle Trigger Points provides information about 160 trigger points and their corresponding referral patterns on 108 muscles. It also covers 80 trigger-point conditions and 25 videos that teach how to release some muscles. The app is $2.99.
    Apple: Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices with iOS 8.0 and up.
    Android: Compatible with Android devices that support OS 4.0.3 and up.

  • CORE: Clinical Orthopedic Exam allows therapists to find specific tests, exams, and outcome measures necessary to reach objective diagnostic conclusions for musculoskeletal and orthopedic disorders. It’s currently $39.99.
    Apple: Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices with iOS 7.0 and up.
    Android: Compatible with Android devices; OS requirements vary with device.

Clinical Use

  • StarT Back is a free prognostic questionnaire from Keele University that helps therapists and other clinicians identify the modifiable risk factors associated with back pain disability and match risk level with appropriate treatment.

  • Goniometer (for Apple) and Goniometer Records (for Android) allow users to easily and accurately measure angles to ensure that an object rotates to a specific position. Goniometer is the favorite app of WebPT President and Co-founder Heidi Jannenga, PT, DPT, ATC: “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,” she says. “[It elicits] lots of ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ from patients.” The app costs $4.99.
    Apple: Goniometer is compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices with iOS 8.0 and up.
    Android: Goniometer Records is compatible with Android devices that support OS 4.0 and up.

  • MultiTimer: Multiple timers (for Apple) and Multi Timer StopWatch (for Android) are handy free apps that allow you to keep several timers running at once, which can be a big help for timing Medicare patients and performing timed outcome measures.
    Apple: MultiTimer is compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices with iOS 9.0 and up.
    Android: Multi Timer StopWatch is compatible with Android devices that support OS 4.1 and up.

  • Physical Therapy Spanish is a physical therapy-specific Spanish phrasebook, complete with audio, bookmarking, and flashcards. If you’re ever caught without a Spanish translator, you can use this app to communicate with your patients; the app can even phrase questions to elicit yes/no responses. The app is free, but you can pay to remove advertisements.
    Apple: Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices with iOS 7.0 and up.
    Android: Compatible with Android devices that support OS 2.0 and up.

  • ICD10 Consult 2019 is a free and convenient tool that allows users to search for ICD-10-CM codes as well as coding guidelines that are integrated with section and chapter instructions. This app also allows users to search by acronym or synonym. For example, searching “vertebrae” will pull up “vertebra” matches.
    Apple: Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices with iOS 9.0 and up.
    Android: Compatible with Android devices that support OS 4.0.3 and up.

  • TiltMeter (for Apple) and Clinometer (for Android) are free levels and inclinometers that therapists can use to measure active or passive joint range of motion (ROM)
    Apple: TiltMeter is compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices with iOS 3.2 and up.
    Android: Clinometer is compatible with Android devices that support OS 2.3 and up.

  • Dragon Anywhere is a free voice recognition app that allows therapists to dictate reminders, appointments, emails, texts, and even social media status updates. You can create your own voiceprint so the assistant will only respond to your voice, and activate the assistant even when your device is locked.
    Apple: Not compatible with Apple devices.
    Android: Compatible with Android devices; OS requirements vary with device.

Patient Education

  • Orca Care is an excellent option for discussing injuries with patients. You can use the tool’s detailed 3D models and animation to show patients the exact source of their pain as well as how popular treatment approaches can help repair the issue. You also can use your device’s photo or video capture to create your own digital handouts and safely send them to your patients through a HIPAA-secure web portal. Downloading the app is free, but you must subscribe on a monthly ($24.99/mo) or annual ($249.99/yr) basis to access all the content.
    Apple: Compatible with iPad devices with iOS 11.0 and up.
    Android: Not compatible with Android devices.

  • Muscle Bone Anatomy 3D is great for showing patients the human musculoskeletal system. For $4.99, users can view the body, control the body in 3D, learn about the body by grouping muscles based on action, test their anatomy knowledge with six types of quizzes, browse 30 pages of muscle and bone information, and watch five embedded videos.
    Apple: Compatible with iPad devices with iOS 8.0 and up.
    Android: Compatible with Android devices that support OS 4.0.3 and up.

  • Pocket Anatomy (on Apple) and Anatomy Learning (on Android) are great for both PT students and patients because they allow users to peel away layers of the body and view muscles, connective tissue, ligaments, tendons, and more. You can tap on any muscle, and the apps will provide an educational walkthrough. Both Pocket Anatomy and Anatomy Learning are free.
    Apple: Pocket Anatomy is compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices with iOS 8.0 and up.
    Android: Anatomy Learning is compatible with Android devices that support OS 4.3 and up.

  • aVOR is a free teaching and training tool for the vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) system and the causes and treatment of corresponding disorders, such as BPPV.
    Apple: Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices with iOS 6.0 and up.
    Android: Not compatible with Android devices.

Interested in adding telehealth and wellness services to your practice?

Download our free guide to learn how.

What apps are available for occupational therapy?

Fine Motor and Spatial Reasoning

  • Dexteria Fine Motor helps anyone—from children to adults—develop fine motor skills through hand and finger exercises that encourage users to tap, pinch, and write. The app is $5.99 for Apple users, and $4.99 for Android users.
    Apple: Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices with iOS 6.0 and up.
    Android: Compatible with Android devices that support OS 4.0 and up.

  • Dexteria VMI won the Children’s Technology Review Editor’s Choice Award in 2015. It’s a $3.99 Apple-exclusive app that helps children of all ages improve their visual-motor integration skills through gameplay.
    Apple: Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices with iOS 7.0 and up.
    Android: Not compatible with Android devices.

  • P.O.V is a spatial reasoning game that helps children and adults differentiate between left and right, understand abstract math concepts (like shapes and space), and improve visual reasoning. It’s $3.99.
    Apple: Compatible with iPad devices with iOS 11.0 and up.
    Android: Not compatible with Android devices.

  • LetterReflex is ideal for school-based therapists because it helps children overcome the challenges of dyslexia, through games that combat backwards writing and letter reversals. It’s available for $3.99.
    Apple: Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices with iOS 6.0 and up.
    Android: Not compatible with Android devices.

  • Ready to Print helps users build a foundation of pre-writing skills, ensuring that they have the visual-motor, visual-perceptual, and fine motor skills necessary to learn how to write. This app is available for $9.99 in the Apple App Store, and for $7.99 in the Google Play Store.
    Apple: Compatible with iPad devices with iOS 9.0.0 and up.
    Android: Compatible with Android devices that support OS 4.0.3 and up.

  • LetterSchool is an app for toddlers and preschoolers that teaches handwriting through fun and engaging games. It’s free to download and test, but if you’d like to unlock the entire app, it costs $9.99.
    Apple: Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices with iOS 9.0 and up.
    Android: Compatible with Android devices that support OS 4.0.3 and up.

  • Cut the Buttons is exactly what it sounds like: cutting buttons. Players use virtual scissors to cut buttons off pieces of fabric for points using their thumb and index finger to open and close the scissors. But watch out for the screws! They dull the scissors and reduce points.
    Apple: Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices with iOS 7.0 and up.
    Android: Not compatible with Android devices.

  • Cookie Doodle (for Apple) and Cookie Maker (for Android) both boost creativity and improve fine motor skills through virtually mixing—everything from pouring the vanilla and cracking the eggs—baking, decorating, storing, serving, and eating cookies.
    Apple: Cookie Doodle is compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices with iOS 8.0 and up.
    Android: Cookie Maker is compatible with Android devices that support OS 4.1 and up.

  • Labyrinth is a game that challenges fine motor skill by asking users to move a steel ball through a wooden maze by gently tilting the device. It’s free for Apple devices, but costs $2.99 in the Google Play Store.
    Apple: Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices with iOS 8.0 and up.
    Android: Compatible with Android devices; OS requirements vary with device.

Sensory and Cause and Effect

  • Cause and Effect Sensory Light Box provides children and teenagers who have visual impairment, autism, and developmental disabilities with abstract scenes that encourage touch, tap, and gesture exploration. The app is $3.99 for Apple users and $2.49 for Android users.
    Apple: Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices with iOS 9.0 and up.
    Android: Compatible with Android devices that support OS 4.0 and up.

  • Fun Bubbles (for Apple) allows kids to create and pop brightly colored bubbles on screen, thereby improving fine motor skills and having fun—all for $0.99. Popping Bubbles (for Android) is a similar—but free—game that allows kids to hone their fine motor skills by popping bubbles as they move across the screen.
    Apple: Fun Bubbles is compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices with iOS 9.0 and up.
    Android: Popping Bubbles is compatible with Android devices that support OS 5.0 and up.

  • Fluidity (for Apple) and Magic Fluids (for Android) are both free virtual lava lamp-type apps that children and adults can touch to change colors, viscosity, sparkle, and momentum.
    Apple: Fluidity is compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices with iOS 8.0 and up.
    Android: Magic Fluids is compatible with Android devices that support OS 4.1 and up.

  • Pocket Pond 2 is a free application that plays nature sounds while users interact with realistic-looking fish, frogs, and water on the screen. There’s even a thunderstorm option.
    Apple: Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices with iOS 7.0 and up.
    Android: Compatible with Android devices that support OS 2.3 and up.

  • Heat Pad is a free app that offers users a realistic simulation of several heat-sensitive surfaces that react to the warmth of their fingertips, thus improving their understanding of cause and effect.
    Apple: Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices with iOS 7.0 and up.
    Android: Not compatible with Android devices.

Self-Help

  • Toothbrush Timer runs for two minutes, showing users how long they should brush their teeth. It also provides cues for which part of the mouth to brush by quadrant and tooth side. Plus, it’s free.
    Apple: Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices with iOS 4.2 and up.
    Android: Compatible with Android devices that support OS 4.0.3 and up.

  • DialSafe Pro is a free app that teaches children how to use a phone and dial numbers through memorization exercises, lessons, and challenges. The app also lets children practice answering questions that a 911 operator might ask in an emergency.
    Apple: Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices with iOS 4.3 and up.
    Android: Not compatible with Android devices.

What apps are available for speech-language pathology?

  • Custom Boards is a premium ($129.99) evidence-based application that allows therapists and parents to use more than 15,000 symbols and 126 templates to create activity boards for individuals who need visual cues to communicate and learn.
    Apple: Compatible with iPad devices with iOS 8.0 and up.
    Android: Not compatible with Android devices.

  • Articulation Essentials 2.0 is designed to teach articulation techniques for 22 consonant sounds (including blended sounds), multi-syllabic words, and sentences and phrases—all through game-like exercises and engaging pictures. Users can also customize word lists and save scores for future therapy sessions. It’s $9.99.
    Apple: Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices with iOS 9.0 and up.
    Android: Compatible with Android devices that support OS 4.1 and up.

  • Describe it to Me is a $14.99 game show-like app that helps children learn to describe things that they see, using either expressive or receptive language. This app teaches users how to describe an object’s visuals, its function, its parts, and more.
    Apple: Compatible with iPad devices with iOS 8.0 and up.
    Android: Not compatible with Android devices.

  • Toca Kitchen 2 isn’t specifically for therapy; however, many speech-language pathologists use this free Android—or $3.99 Apple—app for teaching pronoun and verb pairs, like “I cut,” “you mix,” and “it blends.” Plus, kids love cooking the food and watching the on-screen characters eat it.
    Apple: Compatible with most iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices with iOS 6.0 and up.
    Android: Compatible with Android devices that support OS 4.1 and up.

  • Apraxia Picture Sound Cards uses evidence-based techniques to improve speech intelligibility for individuals with childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) and severe phonological disorders. This $179.99 app allows SLPs to communicate with parents and digitally share children’s homework as long as the parent has the parental version of the application.
    Apple: Compatible with iPad devices with iOS 8.0 and up.
    Android: Not compatible with Android devices.

  • Peekaboo Barn presents young children with the opportunity to guess which cute, cuddly farm animals are hiding inside the barn based on their sounds. After the child guesses, he or she will see the animal and the animal’s name in one of 12 languages, which helps develop early literacy skills. This app is $1.99.
    Apple: Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices with iOS 5.1.1 and up.
    Android: Not compatible with Android devices.

  • Sentence Ninja is a multi-player, multi-level language game that helps school-age children and adults improve sentence structure skills. The app is available for $21.99.
    Apple: Compatible with iPad devices with iOS 8.0 and up.
    Android: Not compatible with Android devices.

For more great applications for PTs, OTs, and SLPs—and to see what works best for your device of choice—head to the Apple App Store or Google Play Store and type in physical (or physiotherapy), occupational, speech language, orthopedic, pediatric, or manual therapy in the search bar.

How do I make technology even more effective in the clinic?

While using technology in the clinic can be tremendously beneficial for both practitioner and patient, it does open the door for potential distractions. Luckily, there are ways to optimize your device for learning.

Guided Access

All iOS devices have a Guided Access feature, which therapists can employ to help patients stay focused on the learning task at hand. This functionality allows therapists to disable the Home button so the device remains on one app, and it restricts touch input on parts of the screen where a touch-happy finger might cause a distraction. For step-by-step instructions on how to set up Guided Access on your device, click here.

While there’s no perfect Guided Access equivalent on Android devices, there is a feature called screen pinning that disables the Home button and prevents users from exiting the chosen app without a password. For step-by-step instructions on screen-pinning, click here. If you want to avoid digging through your device’s settings to activate this feature, you can also just download SureLock, which has some of the same features as Guided Access—including the ability to hide the Home button.

Speak Selection

Because hearing a word while reading it can help improve comprehension, all iOS devices also have Speak Selection, which allows the device to read aloud selected text in an email, ebook, webpage, or iMessage. Once you’ve turned on this functionality for your device, you can activate it by double-tapping the text you wish to highlight and then selecting “Speak.” Both dialect and speed are adjustable.

For Android devices, you can enable Google text-to-speech functionality in the settings menu.


Want another way to make technology work for you?

By Heidi Jannenga

January 28, 2019