10 Helpful and Free Physical Therapy Apps

Smartphone and tablet apps can help physical therapists and patients learn more about their diagnosis and track their progress. They can also show users how to perform exercises with precision and accuracy for quicker and more substantial results.

Although effective, some apps range from $70-$300, making them outside budget constraints, especially since new apps are developed daily. The good news is there are plenty of quality, free apps that aid PT practices. And we’ve put together 10 great ones below in no particular order.

1.) iOrtho+ is your mobile guide for orthopedic information. This App is designed for rehabilitation professionals, educators and clinicians by Therapeutic Articulations, LLC. iOrtho+ is a mobile and comprehensive reference for orthopedic Special Tests and joint Mobilization Techniques developed from advanced, evidence-based knowledge and extensive clinical practice.

2.) TiltMeter, an advanced Level and Inclinometer, is a professional grade angle measurement tool that can be used to measure the angle of extension/flexion performed in exercises.

3.) Shoulder Decide/ Knee Decide/ Spinal Decide is a multisensory learning tool, which empowers healthcare specialists to teach their patients more quickly, efficiently and effectively. The app includes interactive 3D animations that permit you to explore and explain anatomy like never before.

4.) The Physical Therapy Spanish Guide (PTSG) is a tool designed for non-Spanish speaking health care professionals to quickly ascertain vital medical information from their Spanish speaking patients.

5.) Clinical Pattern Recognition is a simple to use, guideline based orthopedic rehabilitation app developed to help students and clinicians hone their clinical reasoning skills regarding examination, differential diagnosis, movement faults, treatments and exercises for low back pain. It involves evidence based pain pattern recognition, hypothesis generator, guideline based classification, patient videos, manual therapy, movement analysis, exercises, special testing and patient education.

6.) Once Rehab Minder Therapy Assistant is installed, it takes the hand therapist about 30 seconds to set up a patient with Tendon Gliding Exercises.

Customizing an exercise program is quick. Create an injury profile by selecting a body part (e.g. Middle Finger, Elbow) and a brief description of the injury (e.g. Fracture, Flexor Tendon Repair). This generates a ‘short list’ of exercises that can be viewed and added to the program. The menu that follows allows the user to add exercises from the entire database, categorized as ‘Non-exercise Therapy, Passive, Assisted, Active and Resisted.’ The therapist can key in any additional instructions from the second menu also with two ‘Write Note’ functions.

7.) FORCE Mobile intelligently recommends rehab exercises and creates custom playlists from a library of hundreds of professionally produced exercise videos. These videos and instructional voice overs are used by physical therapists around the country to treat and prevent injury.

8.) NPTE by McGraw Hill combines the best in class content from McGraw Hill with award winning mobile learning technology from Watermelon Express to present the best in class NPTE prep tool on iPhone and iPad.

9.) Physical Therapy Case Files, a new app in the authoritative Case Files® series, gives you case studies that illustrate critical concepts you need to build and enhance your skills in physical therapy. Each title focuses on a specific specialty area of physical therapy and each case includes a discussion of the health condition, examination, evaluation, diagnosis, plan of care and interventions, evidence-based practice recommendations and references. NPTE-style review questions accompanying each case reinforce your learning. With Physical Therapy Case Files, everything you need to succeed in the clinic and on the NPTE is right here in your hands.

10.) PT Timer Lite: Stretch & Exercise keeps time, counts reps and sets, and tracks your progress. Enter your own exercises and setup your entire workout. Clear verbal commands and chimes keep you going, while you can listen to music or focus on something else. If you are learning a new exercise, then put pictures and notes into this app, and watch them before you start the exercise.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed guidelines to oversee and regulate a small number of mobile apps—medical apps that could present a risk to patients if the software does not work as intended. Make sure you and your patient are aware of these risks before suggesting and downloading  any app that could thwart progress.

All listed Apps may be found in the iTunes store or on AppCrawler.

This information is to better guide PT’s on what each free PT app can do for them. PTAG does not endorse any of the above apps or app providers.

Jump into the Physical Therapy Pool This Summer

Georgia offers its residents beautiful, hot days each summer. While working on feeling better and regaining strength in physical therapy is extremely beneficial, patients often have a strong desire to be outside when it’s so beautiful. So why not liven up PT exercises and take to in the pool?

According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), the buoyancy of the water supports a portion of your body weight making it easier to move in a pool and improve your flexibility. The water also provides resistance to movements that helps to strengthen muscles. Pool exercises can also improve agility, balance, and cardiovascular fitness. Many types of conditions greatly benefit from pool exercise, including arthritis, fibromyalgia, back pain, joint replacements, neurological, and balance conditions. The pool environment also reduces the risk of falls when compared to exercise on land.

Below are some tips from Move Forward to help you have more fun this summer at PT or in a pool near you:

Preparing for the Pool

Before starting any pool exercise program, always check with your physical therapist or physician to make sure pool exercises are right for you. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Water shoes will help to provide traction on the pool floor
  • Water level can be waist or chest high
  • Use a Styrofoam noodle or floatation belt/vest to keep you afloat in deeper water
  • Slower movements in the water will provide less resistance than faster movements
  • You can use webbed water gloves, Styrofoam weights, inflated balls, or kickboards for increased resistance
  • Never push your body through pain during any exercise
  • Although you will not sweat with pool exercises, it is still important to drink plenty of water

10 Excellent Exercises for the Pool

  1. Water walking or jogging
  2. Forward and side lunges
  3. One leg balance
  4. Sidestepping
  5. Hip kickers at pool wall
  6. Pool planks
  7. Deep water bicycle
  8. Arm raises
  9. Wall push-ups
  10. Standing knee lift

Read more about the suggested exercises here.

Physical therapists are available to help you reach your fitness goals while achieving long-term health benefits. Using their knowledge of mobility, motion and management, they can devise safe exercise plans that improve your quality of life, while avoiding the risk of overtraining.

Find a PT in your area to get started with your custom fitness plan.

For additional resources on fitness safety and overtraining prevention from American Physical Therapy Association and the Physical Therapy Association of Georgia visit www.moveforwardpt.com or www.ptagonline.org.

Members in Motion: Physical Therapist and Teen Oncology Patient Work Through Paralyzing Odds

Kristen Wagner found herself in physical therapy after she tore both of her ACL’s while playing basketball in high school. After her surgeries at Scottish Rite and physical therapy through Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s Sports Medicine program, Kristen knew she wanted to be a physical therapist.

Years later, after graduating from Samford University in 2008 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science, she earned a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Georgia State University in Atlanta in 2011. Wagner then returned to her roots when she began work as a PT, DPT at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta – Scottish Rite.

Wagner had always enjoyed working with children. While in college, she began volunteering at the Lakeshore Foundation teaching swimming lessons. She also aided in research involving activity and quality of life in individuals with disabilities. Pursuing a career in PT was the perfect combination of her strengths and interests.

Working with kids can tug on the heartstrings. “No kid should have to go through the things I see every day,” says Wagner. “You are looking at parents who never dreamed their perfect child would ever be facing something like this…their worst nightmare.”

Wagner then met Andrew “Drew” Wade. Drew is a 14-year-old who was diagnosed in December 2013 with Ewing Sarcoma, a type of bone cancer which was on his spinal vertebrae.
“Of all the patients I have worked with, Drew is one who sticks out most in my mind. I think Drew has a great story, and one that is not finished yet. Not only are he and his family wonderful to work with, they also are very complimentary of the experience they have had with Physical Therapy- both with myself and their “home town” outpatient physical therapist.

Drew had surgery to remove the tumor, but was left paralyzed. He began aggressive outpatient therapy in addition to radiation in his hometown of Columbus, Georgia. He was eventually transferred to the CIRU at Scottish Rite, where Wagner became his primary physical therapist.
When Wagner first met Drew, he only had a trace amount of movement in his lower extremities. Wagner started him on an aggressive program that would ultimately help Drew regain movement in his lower body over time.

“Drew met each new intervention with a slight eye-roll, laugh, and eventually fierce determination. He was so motivated to get his legs stronger, and with each new improvement his motivation only grew,” Wagner says. “At the time of Drew’s discharge from the CIRU, he was able to actively move every muscle group in both of his lower extremities, and demonstrate independence with his wheelchair mobility and functional mobility skills.”

Drew’s parents still keep Wagner updated on his progress in outpatient therapy. Physical therapists play a unique role in the treatment of oncology patients. For Drew, the focus of PT was the damage to his spinal cord. “Often times, physical therapist are working to reduce secondary symptoms like fatigue and debility, and always to maximize independence with functional mobility skills,” says Wagner. “As an oncology patient receives treatment and recovers, physical therapists work to help them return to their prior level of function or adapt to new ways of doing things they enjoy.”

Wagner is hopeful Drew will have a positive recovery as he continues his PT.
“There is no question that the absolute best part of my job is getting to see the dramatic improvement my patients make and the level of appreciation their families feel. It is so amazing to have a patient who comes to the CIRU unable to hold their head up and watch them walk out the door. Physical Therapy in the rehab setting is real, tangible change. I literally get to help patients and families get their life back.”

Interested in sharing your story or learning more about Members in Motion — a campaign dedicated to spotlighting members within the physical therapy community? Please send your name and contact information to info@ptagonline.org – we want to hear about your most rewarding moments as a physical therapist.

Nervous About the NPTE?

July 22nd and 23rd are the dates for the summer National Physical Therapy Exams. PTAG has approximately 1,700 members comprised of PT’s, PTA’s and Students; and the students are nervously studying at this very moment (hopefully), so that they may receive certification.

While the test days are approaching, here are some things to ponder:

  • The NPTE is an exam that was meant to challenge you in new ways to show that you have actually learned something in PT/PTA school. The Scorebuilders study system is reported to be extremely helpful. Many users have raved about this system online. If you do decide to purchase the system, use their iPod app to study test questions at every available moment. If you decide not to invest in Scorebuilders, don’t fret. Free practice tests are available online. (Some links below).
  • The testing center may take your picture and finger prints. In some testing facilities a monitor may come through the test hall periodically to check that everything is going smoothly. Security measures may be intense so, but don’t let them distract you!
  • The test questions will be relevant, if you know the material well, you won’t have to guess.

The 2014 NPTE will be up to date on the latest practices and require more clinical reasoning. Study hard and know the reasoning for the answer in all of your practice exams. This can be challenging because many practice exams do not explain both the right and the wrong answers.

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Good luck to all students! If you need to study a bit more, check out these online practice tests:
https://www.ptfinalexam.com/free-physical-therapy-exam-questions-archive/online-test-mode/
http://www.testprepreview.com/npte_practice.htm

Local Physical Therapist Serves Those Who Serve Us

Dr. Ryan DecarreauDr.Ryan Decarreau, a local physical therapist, is making a difference in the lives of those who serve us. Dr. Deccarreau, through a program called THOR3, is managing and training a new type of athlete: the United States Special Operations Soldier. THOR3 applies Sports Medicine treatment and techniques, usually reserved for collegiate and professional athletes, to our soldiers in the Special Forces. This specific model is aimed at improving both mental and physical capabilities of our soldiers to better prepare them for the physical demands linked with combat training and deployment.

THOR3 (the Tactical Human Optimization Rapid Rehabilitation and Reconditioning program) is an initiative sanctioned by the U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) to provide optimal healthcare and training for our servicemen and women.

“This program has offered me a good opportunity to give back to our military as well as challenged me professionally,” says Dr. Decarreau. “I work with a group of soldiers who appreciate the day-to-day help in keeping them healthy. It has been very rewarding to see our soldiers train like tactical athletes and see the benefits of our program.”

Dr. Decarreau’s physical therapy, sports medicine, and athlete management experience made him the perfect candidate for (THOR3). Over the course of three years at Hunter Army Airfield (Savannah, GA), Dr. Decarreau has been able to expand his skillset beyond the typical requisites associated with civilian sports therapy, while adapting to a multitude of obstacles and challenges that are inherent to his patients’ military duties and deadlines.

Dr. Decarreau notes that while his patients often have to travel – making treatment difficult to regiment– our soldiers have a great deal of discipline, which yields great participation in office visits and even home exercise routines. According to Decarreau, “It has a lot to do with the culture and it is pretty impressive to witness.”

“Through programs like THOR3 and the dedication of physical therapists like Dr. Decarreau, our military personnel will continue to have access to cutting edge healthcare and treatment,” says Barney Poole, PT, DPT President of the Physical Therapy Association of Georgia (PTAG). “We thank him for his dedication to serving those that serve and defend our country. Dr. Decarreau is a worthy representative of our physical therapy community.”

“Overall, it is an honor to work with our soldiers! The group I work with is truly the best at what they do. I am excited to go to work each day to serve those who serve us,” says Decarreau.

Georgia’s PT Educational Opportunities Expand: First Sports Residency Program Participant Certified

Modern Physical Therapy is a far-cry from its humble beginnings at the turn of the 20th Century— and even twenty years ago. The rapid progress of the profession has been spurred by myriad of reasons, such as advances in research, technology, and a growing demand for licensed professionals.  Perhaps the most important factor contributing to the positive evolution of modern physical therapy stems from individual physical therapists seeking post-professional opportunities to improve their knowledge, skills and abilities in a specialty area of practice.

Physical therapists, like those of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA), refuse to be complacent, and strive to raise the bar for the profession. Receiving its accreditation from the American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Programs in October 2013, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is now the first and only Sports Residency Program in the state of Georgia— and one of the few in the country—dedicated to the care of young athletes.

Led by Julie Johnson, PT, MPT, SCS, CSCS and Program Director, and a team of 19 faculty members, the Sports Residency Program has just certified its first participant. Dr. Kelli McLaren, PT, DPT completed her residency and passed the sports specialty examination given by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties, becoming a Sports Certified Specialist.

Dr. McLaren began her residency in August of 2013 and has logged over 2,000 hours of clinical rotations in the Sports Medicine department, community sideline coverage and adjunct didactic educational experiences in other departments of CHOA. The choice to further her post-professional education mirrors a growing trend within the physical therapy profession to specialize since 1985.

Currently, Georgia offers six other residency programs of various specializations through Mercer University, Emory University and PT Solutions. The addition of this specialized certification program to Georgia’s physical therapy education opportunities is a testament to our members’ commitment to professional development, high standards and lifelong learning.

 

To learn more about the new Sports Medicine Residency program, visit our friends at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta by clicking here.

To view a complete list of all available physical therapy residency programs offered in Georgia, visit the American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Education page by clicking here.

Peer-to-Peer Member Spotlight: Getting to Know Dr. Scott Hasson

ImageDr. Scott Hasson has been in teaching and research for 29 years, and currently serves as the Chair of the Department of Physical Therapy at Georgia Regents University.

His active career and dedication to the physical therapy profession earn him recognition as the Physical Therapy Association of Georgia’s May Member Spotlight.

Let’s meet PTAG member Dr. Hasson:

What is your educational background?

I have a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology/Chemistry, and a Masters in Physical Education both from California State University – Fresno. I have a Doctorate in Exercise Science from the University of Northern Colorado, and Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy from the University of Texas Medical Branch – Galveston.

How did you end up in the PT industry?

I already had my Doctorate in Exercise Science and was working as the Director of Rehabilitation in Cheyenne, WY., for a pain management center where I focused on work hardening and on-site training, preparing individuals returning to work.

This was in the very early 80’s and physical therapists and occupational therapists seemed to know very little regarding principles of exercise physiology and motor learning. I realized I did not know enough about pathology, and wanted to move into a more medical focused field.

I considered medicine, but felt I could contribute to physical therapy and perhaps have an impact on the field by promoting exercise science.

I contacted Dr. Helen Hislop at the University of Southern California – after reading some of her work and editorials. She suggested we meet and I flew from Wyoming to Rancho Los Amigos in Downey, CA. Her guidance and advice helped launch me into the field.

Ultimately I wrote the first text on Clinical Exercise Physiology and have been a proponent for Exercise Science as a basis for rehabilitation – especially for patients with Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis – for the past 25 years.

What is the best part about your job?

I enjoy mentoring both faculty and students.

I try to use my network to advance my students while they are here working on their Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), usually by trying to get them affiliations with outstanding clinicians. Once they graduate, I recommend continued growth in the field through residencies, obtaining advanced credentials or becoming PhD’s for those interested in research and mentoring.

I also work with faculty to assist them in realizing and pursuing their dreams in the field. Sometimes it is assisting them in writing their research or in trying to get the financial support for their professional growth or service ideas.

At this time in my career I am here to serve my students, faculty and profession.

Who has been one of the most influential people in your career?

There are two individuals – Dr. Helen Hislop who started me in the field and Dr. Elizabeth Protas, Dean of the College of Allied Health at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, TX.

These two women – along with my wife Ellen and three daughters Karen, Annie and Katie – are the reason why I have had success in my career.

My daughter Karen is a DPT who recently sat for her Neurological Certified Specialist exam after completing her Neuro Residency with Harris County Health in the Houston Medical Center.

What is one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you?

People may be surprised to know that I already had my doctorate prior to becoming a physical therapist. Also, that my daughters collect snakes, and now that two of them have moved out of the house, I am the official “Snake Man!”

Do you know an extraordinary PT, PTA or student worth of recognition? Show your support by submitting nominations at www.ptagonline.org/peer-to-peer.

Avoid Overtraining: Staying Safe While Improving Fitness

Overtraining can be a concern for all people pursuing fitness – no matter age or activity.

Regular exercise can help produce long-term benefits, but it is important that all activities are done safely and in a manner that prevents injury while improving physical performance. Pushing your body too hard can result in serious injuries that may be detrimental to your health – and fitness goals.

According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), overtraining injuries are musculoskeletal injuries that occur due to more activity or exercise than your body is used too – and it can happen to anyone who significantly increases the intensity or changes type of activity.  

Overtraining injuries can include physical injuries, as well as general fatigue and other symptoms. These symptoms can range from physiological changes, such as increased heart rate or blood pressure, to behavioral shifts including decreased motivation, lowered self-esteem or even personality changes.

After a hard workout, it is important to be aware of these symptoms and to recognize any significant changes.

Fortunately, there are a number of strategies to safely – and successfully – improve your fitness. Try following these tips from Move Forward PT, to avoid overtraining injuries:

  • Avoid increasing exercise difficulty level too quickly – Exercise should progress at a gradual pace, try following a structure plan that increases your activity steadily to avoid potential injury.
  • Pay attention to your body: Watch your body for symptoms and signs of overtraining.
  • Ease into it: If you are new to fitness, be sure to take things slow. The lack of conditioning and gradual body build-up can lead to serious injuries including, stress fractures, muscles tears and knee problems.
  • Take a break: If you feel tired, listen to your body. Try lessening your activity or resting to help your body recover after a tough workout.

Physical therapists are available to help you reach your fitness goals while achieving long-term health benefits. Using their knowledge of mobility, motion and management, they can devise safe exercise plans that improve your quality of life, while avoiding the risk of overtraining.

Find a PT in your area to get started with your custom fitness plan.

For additional resources on fitness safety and overtraining prevention from American Physical Therapy Association and the Physical Therapy Association of Georgia visit www.moveforwardpt.com or www.ptagonline.org.

Top Job: Physical Therapy Continues to Rank High on the List of Best Jobs

For the second year in a row, CareerCast.com ranked physical therapy in the top 20 on their list of best jobs in America.

The annual Jobs Rated report featured physical therapy at number 15 out of more than 200 listed jobs – with rankings based on a number of factors including environment, income, job outlook, and stress level.

These numbers should come as no surprise given the phenomenal growth projection for the PT industry.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2022 physical therapy employment will increase nationally by 36 percent, with the field adding 73,500 new jobs. Employment outlook for physical therapy assistants is also expected to increase by 29 percent, with an additional 41,000 new jobs.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the steady demand for physical therapy services can be attributed to an aging baby boomer population.

Baby boomers represent a significant – and growing – portion of the U.S. population. In fact, by 2015, those aged 50 and older will represent 45% of the U.S. population according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

With age come a number of physical hardships – including heart disease, stroke, arthritis and other serious health conditions. As more of the general population moves towards middle and old age – physical therapy is becoming a popular tool to combat the challenges of aging, significantly increasing the need for physical therapists.

Fortunately, there is significant interest among the younger generation in pursuing physical therapy as a career.

Data from the American Physical Therapy Association indicates that as of year-end 2010, there are 213 accredited physical therapist education programs, 13 developing doctor of physical therapy (DPT) programs, and 33,800 entry-level DPT graduates.

Additionally, between 2004 and 2009, the number of applicants to physical therapist education programs increased, on average, by 110% and actual enrollments increased by 45.3%.

There are a number of opportunities for physical therapists to remain an important part of the healthcare system now – and in future.

And as the physical therapy industry continues to rank high as one of the best jobs in America, the supply of talented, hard-working physical therapists is sure to increase simultaneously to meet the rising demand.

A Family Affair: Smart Moves for Busy Families

FamilyKeeping your family fit and active by promoting physical activity is an incredibly important step towards establishing a healthy lifestyle.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Physical Activity Guidelines, children should get 1 hour or more of physical activity every day. In addition, adults should do 2 hours and 30 minutes a week of moderate-intensity, or 1 hour and 15 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity.

Regular physical activity can produce tremendous benefits. It can help reduce pain, restore flexibility and increase strength and cardiovascular endurance. It can also help lower the risk of heart disease and stroke, manage glucose levels, and assist with pre-existing health conditions.

The techniques and exercise tools provided by physical therapists can help almost everyone reach their fitness goals and achieve long-term health benefits.

Using their extensive knowledge of mobility, motion and management, they can devise safe exercise programs for people of all ages and abilities – building life-long habits that encourage physical fitness.

Incorporating fitness into an everyday routine may seem daunting for a busy family, but it is simple – and a great way to improve your quality of life.

Try these family fitness tips from Move Forward to help keep your family healthy, happy and physically active.

  • Gather your family for weekend workouts to encourage physical activity. In Georgia, there are a number of fun activities including running, hiking, bicycling or swimming offered through state parks
  • Encourage your children to participate in individualized or group sports at their school
  • Provide positive rewards for your child when he or she engages in physical activities or makes a significant lifestyle change
  • Make exercise and physical activity a priority for the entire family – not just a chore
  • Walking isn’t costly and it’s easy. Get outdoors and explore!
  • Help your child plan physical activities with friends and neighbors
  • Be your child’s “exercise buddy.” Organize daily activities and set goals that you can enjoy together

Regular exercise can help produce long-term benefits, but it is important that all activities are done safely and in a manner that prevents injury while improving physical performance.

Physical therapists in Georgia are available to meet for health and wellness consultations without a referral from a doctor, with some insurance policies covering the cost.

Plan to utilize this resource to establish safe, health preserving techniques that improve the quality of life for you – and your family.

For additional resources on family fitness plans or PT resources from the American Physical Therapy Association and the Physical Therapy Association of Georgia visit www.moveforwardpt.com or www.ptagonline.org.  

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