An App or ‘application’ is a piece of software or program. Typically you can download it once and then use it on your smart phone, iPad, mobile tablet or computer.
An app usually provides one service; it could be a game or general information like news or weather. It can also be a service like counting the number of steps you walk or banking. Apps can be free or paid and range widely in price and quality. You can download apps from online ‘stores’ such as Apple’s ‘App Store’ or ‘Google Play’.
There are innumerable health related apps available for everything from
monitoring your blood pressure to finding wheelchair accessible restaurants.
Many apps have the potential to help stroke survivors and their families. They include support for communication difficulties, mobility problems and general organization. There are so many apps available in this sector that we can only provide a sample from some of the relevant categories.
- Possible Benefits for Stroke
Speech generating apps and picture exchange apps typically ask the user to select from a set of categories until they find the right image; for example you might choose from a list of headings to find images that help to convey your message. Some apps then speak the word or sentence while others simply provide a picture for the user to show. Examples of these apps include Proloquo2go and GraceApp.
There are also apps based on the exercises you might do during a session with your therapist. Talk Around It1 apps present word finding exercises used by many speech and language pathologists. In this app you are asked to name an object with the support of spoken, sound and written cues.
Apps that help with everyday tasks include iDress for Weather which shows you examples of clothes that are suitable for the weather in your area that day. StepByStep presents exercises that help with problem solving and sequencing. The app presents pictures of steps involved in every day tasks like getting dressed and then asks you to put them in the correct order. Pocket Physio is an example of a physical therapy app. It includes videos that explain how to walk down stairs, use a frame and perform numerous exercises.
There is also a range of apps to keep you organized such as MediSafe app reminds you when to take your medications. The Life 360 Family Locator is a free app that helps you to track the location of family members. There are also apps for daily tasks, medical histories, shopping, appointments and the list goes on.
Arguments against using Apps for stroke
- There are very few clinical trials or high quality research papers to prove that apps are effective in the ways they claim. However, several apps are developed in line with well researched and commonly used therapies.
- There is very little objective advice about apps in general. In the health sector it is common to find that the app review sites are written by the same people who developed the apps.
- This area is not well regulated so it is possible for app developers to make unsubstantiated claims. However, there is always a ‘review’ section where you can have your say and read the comments left by other users. This may offer some guidance but it is important to remember that positive reviews may be written by friends of the developer and that negative reviews may be written by a competitor.
- Reports and Case Histories
BBC Future presents this article Jonathan Kalan: ‘iPhone apps: Therapists that are always on call’ http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20121129-a-therapist-thats-always-on-call
- Notes and References