Using Your iPad in Dysphagia Therapy

iPad fascination

Photo by rahego

So many people are using iPads, iPhones and iPods in therapy. While there are many other devices out there, I’m focusing on the “iDevices” because those are the devices that I know the best. It is very easy to find apps for pediatric speech therapy, even apps for adult language therapy. There are apps for language, articulation, AAC, voice, fluency, and a few for dysphagia, but not many. It seems that few therapists are using their devices for dysphagia therapy. In lieu of the small number of apps available for those of us specializing in dysphagia therapy, we can very effectively use our iDevices for treatment.

One feature that comes with any of the iDevices is the notepad. This looks like the yellow legal pads that I’m sure we’ve all used. You can use the keyboard or dock your device to a keyboard to type notes. Once these notes are done you can then choose the option to print or you can email it to yourself to print. You can also use Evernote (which is free) to create documents and access everything from any of your smart devices or from the computer.

I use Dropbox quite often. Dropbox is a cloud storage app. I have it installed on my computer, iPad, iPod and Android phone. I save files from my computer including journal articles, forms, documents, etc and can access them through any of my mobile devices or can access them via the internet on any computer. In addition to Dropbox (which is free for 2 gb), I use Carbonite. Carbonite is a yearly subscription (around $60 a year) that is a backup system for your computer, it backs up all of your documents, plus you can log onto your account from any computer via the internet to access all of your backed-up items and there is an iOs and Android app to access your files from your mobile device.

Dysphagia2Go is the new Dysphagia evaluation app that lets you use your iPad during your Clinical Dysphagia Evaluation to write a report with all of your findings. If you already have a computerized version of your report, you can email the results to yourself and copy and paste your findings. This app is available through SmartyEars and will have some exciting new updates soon!

iSwallow is available for Apple devices. iSwallow is a free app that allows you to show videos of each exercise for your patient and allows your patient to track their exercises and lets the therapist see how many times each exercise was completed at home. This hasn’t been a very functional app for me; fortunately it was free. You have to email the company to get a password to unlock the app and I tried many times, unsuccessfully, to get the password from them. Fortunately, I ended up finding another therapist that had the password to get it. Also, it would be helpful if you had patients that owned iDevices so that they could utilize it. At this time, I’m not willing to loan out my devices to allow patients to track. Most of my patients are 70 or older and don’t own iDevices.

Lingraphica offers 2 apps for dysphagia. One is a communication aid for the iPhone/iPod Touch that can also be used on the iPad. It allows a patient with dysphagia to communicate regarding their dysphagia, for example, “I need my dentures” or “I need to be sitting up to eat”. This would be helpful if you have an aphasic patient with dysphagia that would be able and/or willing to communicate these items with others. Lingraphica also has an oral motor app which has videos of each exercise being completed.

There are also several apps which show the structures, from a scope view. You can use iLarynx, LUMA ENT and URVL to look at the structures, or to use for patient education. They are also fun to play and see if you can “insert” the scope appropriately.

Lab Tests is a relatively inexpensive app, I think it’s $1.99 that describes the lab values and has normative data for lab values. This is nice if you work in an acute care hospital, where they typically draw daily labs to interpret what the lab values indicate.

Pill Identifier lets you search medications by shape, color or score. Telling you what the pill is, what the indications are, how it is available OTC or prescription. You can view images of the pill or look at information of each pill via Drugs.com.

3D Brain is a wonderful view of the brain to educate patients on lesions and where their lesions are located. It’s also a fun app to play with giving you views of the brain and descriptions of the areas of the brain.

I’m sure this is not a comprehensive list of the apps however, hopefully it’s a start to help you utilize your iDevice in your dysphagia therapy. Also, keep watching SmartyEars for possible new dysphagia apps.

 

Tiffani Wallace, MA, CCC-SLP, currently works in an acute care hospital in Indiana.  Tiffani is working to specialize in dysphagia and is working to achieve the BRS-S.  She is also a member of the Smarty Ears Advisory Board and co-author of Dysphagia2Go, and has a website about dysphagia, Disphagia Ramblings.