Sunday, December 2, 2012

iPad App: Cursive Writing HD

Cursive Writing HD app
Cursive Writing HD app on iTunes ($0.99, periodically free for a limited time)

What it is: Practice cursive writing by tracing at the level of letters (capitals or lower case), words, or sentences (where you can type your own sentence and have it presented in traceable format). There's a few settings that can be adjusted like color and thickness, but in general it's a one-trick pony: have written material presented so you can practice tracing it.

How we can use it in Tx: Decide on the complexity level you need (letter, word, sentence) and have your client practice tracing, preferably using a stylus rather than their finger. There's not a ton of different uses for this, and not a ton of pts that would need it. But right now I actually do have a pt that wants to work on her handwriting because it's harder for her to write than it used to be before her stroke. She has no problems reading, and she likes to write only in cursive. She has a hard time holding a writing utensil and pressing down enough to make clear markings on a page. Using a stylus to trace the letters on an iPad circumvents the problems with strength and gravity (where she is holding her paper up and trying to write with the pen's tip pointing up). She was used her nice handwriting and really wants to have it back. She has also forgotten how to write a few of the cursive letters (particularly capitals of some cursive letters, like Q and G). This app was just made for her.

Goals we can target with this app: Like I said, one-trick pony... so mostly writing, and as far as language goes, symbolic dysfunction to a point (if it's beyond very mild dysfunction, cursive is probably not the writing you'd work on). I think tasks can be implemented for field-neglect goals and, obviously, reading.

Some specific examples:

1. Writing: Choose the level you need to work on (letters, words, sentences) and, well, do.

2. For reading goals, if they are for very mild dysfunction with high-functioning pts, you can use this app to generate cursive sentences for pts to practice reading. Anything more severe than mild should probably not be addressed in cursive form.

3. For visual field neglect goals practicing tracing letters, words or sentences (especially sentences) may help work on both strong and neglected sides; you can assess how much cuing is needed to address the weaker side.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

iPad/iPhone App: Christmas Delights

Christmas Delights App
Christmas Delights app on iTunes ($0.99, sometimes free)

What it is: An app that lets you decorate a tree, with a few choices of trees and backgrounds (additional options as part of in-app purchases, but not really necessary for our needs). The ornaments that come with this app are sufficient in variety of colors and types. The lights have a dynamic display (they light up and dim) so the effect is rewarding. The resulting decorated tree can be saved and printed or emailed (or shared on social media, as with everything else in this world these days). Here is the emailed card of the tree I decorated with the app:

How we can use it in Tx: I would turn off the sound (there's a variety of holiday themed music as background; unless you want to provide competing stimuli to work on focus, I'd keep it quiet). Then you can either let the client free-form decorate a tree and put presents under it, or you can request the client follow a particular color scheme or other directions.

Goals we can target with this app: I think this would be a great task for visual field neglect needs, especially motivating at this time of year although I imagine this would still be fun any time. You can work on direction-following (written or oral) and memory if you give one or two step directions verbally. Attention and focus, with competing stimuli if you want to keep the music on. Sequencing and sorting can be implemented (see examples below). Temporal orientation if you talk about the holidays in general.

Some specific examples:

1. For visual field neglect goals simply let the pt decorate the tree and cue as needed to avoid neglecting the weaker side.

2. For direction-following goals provide written directions at the complexity level your goal targets, and assess ability to follow them. For example, specify what type and/or color of decorations should go at the top of the tree, what in the middle, what at the bottom. Maybe specify how many rows and how many decorations per row at various heights of the tree. How many gifts and what color wrapping... etc.

3. For memory goals give directions in 1 or 2 steps at a time verbally; have the pt repeat the directions (e.g., "put a yellow ball on the tree, then a red one" or "put 2 blue bows at the top of the tree") then follow them from memory. You can control the difficulty level of the task by how many details are included in the directions.

4. For sequencing goals you can give directions that involve sequencing, for example asking a pt to put one ornament at the top, then 2, then 3 with each row towards the bottom having one more decoration than the previous row.

5. For sorting you can include requests that involve sorting ornaments by color or shape or type.

Just have fun with it. Anything is better than crossing out specific letters or numbers on a page... right?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

iPad/iPhone App: Micromedex Drug Information (Free)

Micromedex Drug Info App
Micromedex Drug Information on iTunes (free)

A database of medications (generic and trade names) that includes information on 4500+ search terms. Once downloaded to your device, you can access the information offline (don't need an internet connection/wifi).

This is a great resource for information we could use, such as precautions, contraindications, common and serious adverse effects, drug interactions and loads more. It's hard to believe this app is free!

I've been using this app as a basic quick check of medications' effect on swallowing function. For example, a dysphagia pt of mine was recently put on an antidepressant that has xerostomia listed as one of its side-effects. I had noticed a slight increase in stasis, and now I have at least one explanation for why, along with a good idea of how to treat it. It's not making me an expert on medications by any means, but this information came in useful for my clinical decision making. Over time, I'm sure I'll just have a basic idea of which class of meds is relevant to my scope of practice... but for now, I can look stuff up quickly and easily on my iPhone.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

iPad/iPhone App: NumberOne Brain

NumberOne Brain app
NumberOne Brain app on iTunes (free)

What it is: A matching game where you are asked to locate a target number on a board tiled with several numbers (5-10 of them, see screen image #1). Very simple, but it gets more and more complex as you play: you have to learn to ignore competing stim to find the number you need.

Screen Image #1
As you can see from the screen image at a maximally simple point in the game (the start), the tiles are spaced so there's only one per column. Visual complexity is increased by adding more tiles to choose from, and/or lining them up to have more than one per column. Also, proximity of visually similar number tiles (to the target number) can add complexity, as can the extent of similarity between the tiles (so instead of maximally different from the target number as in the screen image, you may get 101, 110, 1, 211 and 11). The colors of the tiles may also work to draw your attention away from the correct answer, and at a more difficult level an incorrect tile may compete for your attention by shaking a bit. Possibly there's something in the sound as well, but I never play games like this with sound on. Either way, this is a great way to exercise your focus and quite fun as well.

Screen Image #2
How we can use it in Tx: There are several difficulty options available for this game, and as usual I recommend the simplest: "easy". All game play gets more complicated the better you do during the round though. Also, as usual I recommend playing this without the sound unless you have a pt with very high fxn that could use the extra competing stim.

One thing to keep in mind about this game is that, although a fairly simple concept and pretty fun to play, it is timed and graded, although as of March 2013 the grading can be turned off per new update. A round lasts a certain length, and you lose seconds when making mistakes, and I think gain some if have a good run. Here's an example of the summary that shows up at the end of a round if grading is not turned off (screen image #2). Some of the data is worth having, and may even be useful to us for keeping track of progress. However, the school-like grading of "brain level" is not for use in therapy (the original version of this app I reviewed did not allow grading to be switched off, and that's where the screen image is from). The new version does allow you to avoid this grading, which is a huge bonus for our uses! A great thank you to the developers for this, and their update re the matter on this post!

Goals we can target with this app: Attention, focus, following directions, scanning and visual field neglect goals, and of course memory goals (I suggest a way to focus on memory below). A pt with severe symbolic dysfunction may benefit from number matching as well, but they may need too much time for each match to get any real use out of this game. Worth a try.

Some specific examples: There's not really a lot of things you can vary in playing this game. You can vary the level of cues provided to help pt find matching tiles, and you can focus on specific results and/or progress. So for example:

1. If you're working on scanning and field neglect then accuracy becomes an important goal, and you should consider the number of mistakes per round. However, you should also pay attention to how many of those mistakes were due to competing stim from the dominant side.

2. If you're working on focus/attention, pay closer attention to what kind of competing stim interfered most (was it color, was it motion, was it placement, etc.).

3. Here's an idea for how to work on memory goals: Every time a new target number appears, after the pt has looked at it, pause the game (the screen will turn black, covering up the playing board). Check for immediate recall of the target number. If appropriate, distract the pt with something and then check for delayed recall. Then go back to the board, let the pt find the match, and do the same for the next target number (or skip one or two numbers, then pause for the following one to check recall). If you want to up the difficulty, upon pause ask to recall the current target number and the previous one.

4. Brain-training: for the regular (not rehab-patient) population, this game can provide great training for attention and focus, reflexes, scanning, and to some extent memory. For this population the graded summary may be a great motivator to do better each time you play.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

iPhone/iPad app: Speed Match

Speed Match App
Speed Match on iTunes ($0.99, sometimes free)

What it is: a game where you are presented with two columns of 5 icons, and you have to remove them by matching icons from each column. Sometimes there's a few icons that are the same in both columns, sometimes only one (as in the screen shot here). Once you've matched and removed all the icons you win the round.

While playing, you can swipe a tile off the board from either column as needed, and these tiles are replaced by different ones. There is no "punishment" for doing this except for wasting time if you do it too often. There are no untimed rounds, sadly. There are several levels: you get the same total time to complete the rounds (4 minutes) and with each level you have a larger number of tiles to clear. The easiest is 25 tiles, then 50, 100, 125 and 150.

Screen Shot
As I mentioned already, all levels are timed. Additional challenges include that you can only mismatch 3 times (see 1 of the 3 spaces under the time left in the screen shot is lit up); once you mismatch 3 times the round ends. Waiting too long between matches will also cost a "mismatch" light. There are also several selections of tile styles, but I think the ones in the screen shot (the default ones) are probably easiest.

One other thing: this game is optimized for the iPhone/iPod screen sizes, but works really well in x2 mode on the iPad. I recommend only using the larger iPad screen in Tx.

How we can use it in Tx: I have written the developers and asked if they'd consider adding an untimed mode that could be used for practice or younger players in general, and our target population in particular. But until such a mode is added, I envision using the easiest level (matching 25 tiles) and setting realistic goals of how many tiles to remove before the clock runs out rather than expecting a pt to clear the board completely. You can vary the level of support provided to reach the goal. You can also make it maximally simple by finding a match yourself, and then touching the pair-able tile on one side, and asking the pt to find that tile on the other side. But remember, to play this you can't select tiles, you have to be actively/continuously touching both at the same time (however, you can be touching one side and take time before touching the other side; the tile will be removed once both sides are touched).

Goals we can target with this app: attention and focus, following directions, problem solving, scanning and visual field neglect, and of course memory.

Some specific examples:

1. For memory goals, the therapist can find a pair-able tile, bring it to the pt's attention and ask for the pair, then cover the tile up (thereby "selecting" the tile by touching it, so when the paired tile is touched it is removed) for the pt to find the matching tile from memory. Set a goal for how many tiles you want matched before the round ends (either due to time running out or 3 errors).

2. For visual field neglect just playing this game and having to simultaneously touch tiles from both sides is a great activity. A variation could be having the ST find the pairs and, like in #1 above, pointing out a tile on the pt's stronger visual side (but not covering it up like in #1, just pointing at it) and having the pt find the corresponding tile on the neglected side.

3. To target problem solving make a goal that involves removing unmatchable tiles while looking for matches. For example, tell the pt to remove 2 tiles they consider in their way every time they are stuck looking for a match. On the go reasoning is required to make these decisions (play the game for a bit and you'll see yourself).

4. To target direction following the ST, again, can be the one locating the matches, and communicating which tiles to touch to the pt. This information can be communicated by describing the tile (shape, color) or their location in the column (at the very top, halfway down, etc.) or both. This will take quite a bit of time so don't expect to clear too many tiles before time runs out. Maybe if an untimed mode is added.... :-)

4. Brain-training: for the regular (not rehab-patient) population, this game can provide great stimulation for attention/focus, memory, reflexes, scanning, decision-making and prioritizing. It's kind of addicting, but for short bursts of game playing (not one of those games you'll find yourself wasting your whole day on).

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Resource Website: Terrible (I mean Thera) simplicity

I wrote a less than glowing review of this website and they have fired back by requesting google take down my blog entry (presumably for infringing on their copyright, but in fact since any such claim results in default take-down of a blog entry with no investigation, they silenced criticism). Well, I don't really have the capacity to fight them, but needless to say I'm becoming less and less a fan. I'll leave it at that.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

iPad/iPhone App: NxtApp

NxtApp App
NxtApp on iTunes ($0.99, free sometimes)

What it is: A mental math puzzle where you have to find the next number in a sequence using basic math. For example, you may get the following screen: 5, 8, 11, 14, ___ and you have to solve for the missing number. Using simple math (in this case addition) and logic you deduce that the missing number is 17 (each number is the sum of the previous number + 3). The missing number in the sequence is not always the final one, it can be any of the numbers.

In each round you get 10 sequences to solve, although instead of just counting how many you solved correctly (which would have been much better) the round stops with the first error. But it lets you restart the round immediately so it's not a huge problem... it just means that if you want an accuracy % you'll need to keep track manually. There is a timer that runs while the sequence is being solved, but thankfully there does not appear to be a limit to how long one takes.
There are several categories of level difficulty: The first listed is "beginner" but it's actually a link to a different app from the same seller, intended for kids. The next level is called category 1, and it includes additions (+) and subtractions (-), category 2 multiplications (x) and divisions (÷), category 3 can have x, + or -, category 4 has powers, +, and -, category 5 has powers and x, category 6 is more powers and 7 is mystery. So as you can tell, the task gets more complex with each category.

How we can use it in Tx: When it's a game like this, simply have your pt play the game and adjust your cuing as needed. For most pts the most appropriate category would probably be 1 (limited to + and - math operations). For most pts when the operation that makes the sequence is adding or subtracting more than single digits (for example a sequence such as 2, 13, 24, 35 where each number is the previous + 11) they may need a pen and paper to calculate. And pts with reasoning goals may need additional cuing to determine what to calculate (to subtract the preceding number from the one that follows it).

Goals we can target with this app: Problem-solving, reasoning and specifically math goals, obviously sequencing goals, direction following and focus (focusing on a math problem in competing noise is quite the task), and of course memory--especially working memory--if the pt can do at least some of the task in their head (thereby having to retain the numbers and operations in memory).

Some specific examples:

1. For memory goals, play this game with the therapist looking at the screen and the pt having to solve the sequence either mentally or (more likely since some of the operations are a little harder) by writing the sequences down but from memory. That is, open a new sequence problem and read it to the pt all at once ("5, 8, 11, blank, 17"). The pt then has to remember all 5 numbers and repeat them before writing them down. If the pt couldn't repeat the sequence correctly immediately after it's read out, the therapist can read it again, and the pt can repeat it again. Repeat as needed until the correct sequence is repeated back, and then have the pt write it down. You can vary this task and make it easier by only reading out 3 or 4 numbers at a time. This way you are working on retaining lists of numbers (and subsequently writing them down) as part of a larger task making the list-repeating feel a little less rote.

2. For reasoning, sequencing and math goals simply play the game and choose the level of cuing your pt needs. The math required to solve each puzzle is fairly basic, but the logic and reasoning skills to figure out how to solve it may be rather difficult for many of our pts. Whichever of these goals is yours, pay attention to the cuing needed for that specific skill (i.e., your pt may need max cues to figure out which numbers to subtract or add to figure out the answer, and what to do with the answer when it's figured out, but may be able to independently carry out the actual math operation once it's determined).

3. Brain-training: for the regular (not rehab-patient) population, this is a great math and logic puzzle to train your mental math abilities. Try to beat the clock and do it quickly or aim for accuracy over speed.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

iPad app: CountBattle

CountBattle App
CountBattle app on iTunes ($0.99, sometimes free)

What it is: A very simple sequencing game: you get circles numbered consecutively from 1 to 15, and you simply have to tap them in order, the main objective being to do it the fastest you can. There's 3 levels (easy, normal and hard). The easy level spreads the numbered circles throughout the screen and doesn't move them. Normal and hard levels involve random repositioning of the circles as you play. If you tap outside a circle or in the wrong order, you get moved back one number (so if you were on "7" and tapped "13" by mistake, you're now on "6").

You can play on your own, or two people can simultaneously play in split screen. See screenshots on right. The first screenshot shows the game with one player; the numbers that have been selected in order are dimmed, and the ones still to be tapped are brighter. The screenshot below it shows the game in split screen, where two sequences of 1-15 numbers are presented, one in reddish tones, one in bluish.

How we can use it in Tx: I envision it as a useful activity for any number of executive function, field neglect and aphasia related goals. For most patients you'd probably use the easy level (where numbers stay put) and full screen ("one player"). For more advanced patients you could use the normal level where numbers reposition randomly. Since there's no time limit on this task (you try to get the best time possible, but there's no limit in how long one takes) the more difficult level--while definitely a complex task--is still usable. You can also up the complexity of the task by asking the pt to play in split screen ("2 players") in easy mode (numbers don't move around).

Goals we can target with this app: scanning, sequencing, number recognition, field neglect, direction following, focus, and divided attention.

Some specific examples:

1. For a divided attention goal select 2 players for a split-screen task, and set it on easy level. The numbers for each side of the screen point towards the edge they are near (see the screenshot on the right: the two sets of numbers are right-side-up for the side of the screen they are on). Decide how you want to play the game (either set the iPad in a way that all the numbers are on their sides, but none are upside down, or let one of the colors be upside down and count that as another level of complexity for this task). Ask the pt to proceed on both sets at the same pace (so tap "1" on blues, then "1" on reds; then "2" on blues, then "2" on reds, etc.). A more complex version would be to do a few at a time (in 3's for example, doing 1-3 on blues, same on reds, then 4-6 on each, etc.). There's many variations.

2. For a simple scanning (or sequencing, or number recognition) task ask the pt to play the game in simplest mode (easy level, 1 player) and then try to beat their own time on a 2nd or 3rd attempt.

3. Brain-training: for the regular (not rehab-patient) population, playing any of these levels, trying to get the best time, is good scanning and memory practice. The non-disordered player is likely to scan the screen quickly and mental-note where the numbers are so as to play faster. I find it fun and challenging myself.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Free Utility Apps: ICD-9 Codes (several apps)

Some free ones from iTunes: ICD-9 LITE, ICD9 Search, ICD9 + HCPCS, and ICD9 Consult 2012. There's a free Android one also: ICD9.

Look up ICD-9 Codes quickly. Look up by categories, search by diagnoses or by codes, etc. If you don't know what ICD-9 codes are for, then you probably don't need these apps. If you do and you use them regularly, you will surely benefit from having them at your fingertips.

There are additional apps like these, and paid versions as well. I've been using the free ICD-9 LITE and ICD9 Consult 2012 for iOS and each has worked pretty well for me so far

Sunday, July 29, 2012

iPad/iPhone app: Writers App

Writers App
"Writers App" app in iTunes (usually $0.99, sometimes free)

What it is: An application to help authors plan a story/novel. A place to enter notes about characters, places, the plot, individual chapters, etc., and to keep it in an organized database. It is very intuitive to use, and does not require each field to have content.

You start out by adding a story (you can work on several at once, each with its own entry). For each story you then add relevant details: a title, information about the story (synopsis, premise, plot), chapters, characters, places, and there's room for further notes. You can add as many characters (or chapters, or places) as you want. For each character there are fields for name, general info (role, occupation), attributes such as strengths and weaknesses, habits, biography, hobbies, personality, and physical characteristics (hair, age, eyes, etc.), and of course further notes. Each entry for "Places" also expands to the name of place, about it, environment, description, characteristics and further notes.

So as you can see, it's structured but has a lot of fields and room for freestyle notes. There's no customization for the fields (I'm sure future updates will include this; it is always something users request once they start using an app like this). There's also no way to include pictures, and I'm not sure there ever will be, but if needed that can be added via export: Currently there's only one way to export, which is to email yourself the list: whatever level you export from, will include the info on that level and below it. So if you export from one character's view, you will only get the info for that character; if you export from the main story level, you will get everything you have entered for the entire story (all the characters, places, etc.). The emailed text can be copied and pasted into a simple document, and if needed pictures can be added. Format nicely and print.

How we can use it in Tx: This is a great tool to keep track of characters and plot twists for an author in the planning stages of their great novel... And for us, it's a great tool to help pts slowly put together their own life story. While there are a few fields in this application that won't play a role (and may confuse a pt if they are doing this independently) I think this is a great tool to use *with* the SLP to work on reminiscing, map out one's family members, one's life story, and even better--all of these. Since the information is so well fragmented into characters, places, story... we can concentrate on one section at a time (for several sessions, as needed). And the best part is that the resulting information from these sessions can be printed for the patient to keep.

This may not be the perfect app for doing this, but it's a nice start. And it lets you keep a list of what the pt has already contributed, go over it in future sessions, and proceed from there. And of course this can also be achieved with just a pad and paper, or any number of note-taking apps (some that also allow pictures and sound attachments). But I like the organization of this one that makes this open-ended task into a structured exercise, easier to follow through with and to pick up where you left off in future sessions.

Goals we can target with this app: Memory goals mostly, and since it uses a pt's personal information about their life and family, one hopes there's increased motivation to participate in the task. Sequencing and categorization, attention and question/answer goals are addressed almost inherently as part of the task, and there could be added focus on these goals as needed. For example, a pt could be asked to recall something from grade school, something from high school, something from college (if they attended) or military service (or whatever else they did after HS) and work on sequencing these stories into chapters (which came first in life, which later). Orientation is also addressed as part of discussing previous events, younger age, different locations (that was then, this is now).

Some specific examples:

1. Reminiscing: for a pt that isn't able to remember a lot about their own life, you can create a chapter for certain decades (20's, 30's, 40's, 50's, 60's...) and think of famous characters from each era (Marilyn Monroe, Shirley Temple, Churchill, Charlie Chaplin, etc.). and famous events... If you don't remember much from your grade school history classes you can do some minimal research online and find enough famous events and people for each decade within minutes, surely. Or you can do the research together with your pt, and let them participate and recall some of these milestones. I had a pt who had a really hard time remembering anything about his own life, with LTM and STM goals. I brought in a reminiscing task with pictures of famous events or people from various decades, and we went through them. My pt said he won't remember any of it when we started, but as we went through my list he did in fact recall quite a few of the events and people, and had a few bits of information to contribute about them, some even from personal experiences. It was a very successful session that left both of us smiling.

2. External memory cues: work on a pt's family tree using this app by adding each family member as their own character. Go over each character on multiple occasions trying to get pt to recall additional attributes; maybe add descriptions based on photos in the pt's room... You can get additional info from visiting family members if possible. Just have fun with it. And this is certainly something you will want to export, format, and print for the pt when you are done.

3. Write a pt's life story, especially if it's a pt who has lived in several places. Write a chapter for each time in their life (as I mention above, one for grade school, one for high school, etc.) and again, let them fill in bits and pieces over several sessions (give the specifics recalled previously and ask for more detailed info, e.g. "so last time we talked about your time in the army and you mentioned you were stationed in Italy. How long were you there?").

Friday, July 20, 2012

iPhone app: Oh, My Word! 2

Oh My Word! 2 App
OhMyWord2 app in iTunes (free)

What it is: Dubbed a prettier and more interesting version of hangman, this is a game where you guess a common 5 letter word based on being given two words that would flank it if listed in alphabetical order. You enter a 5 letter word as your guess, and if it's not the target word, your guess replaces one of the flanking clue words, getting you closer to the target. For example in the screen image below, the target word if listed alphabetically would be between GYROS and OFFER. So the hidden word must start with G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N or O. Put in a few guesses of words starting with these letters, and you narrow it down to a word that in alphabetic order would be between LIMPS and LINKS and must therefore start with LI- (see screen image 2, below).

Screen Image 1
There are several levels at which this game can be played, including a relaxed (called "classic") un-timed easy level where you are given 50 guesses, and the goal is to see how many words you can find within that number of guesses. There's also hints where you can request to be shown one of the letters in the hidden word. After playing this game several times (ok, a whole lot of times... this is a fun game!) I can attest to the fact that the target words indeed are common.

How we can use it in Tx: Access to an un-timed level with truly common words makes this a useful Tx tool. Definitions do not enter into the game. It is more about word recognition and letter sequencing in alphabetic order. Word-finding in the traditional sense normally involves coming up with the word for a specific item, and as such the definition is an integral part. Coming up with words that start with a specific letter (or sequence of letters) is a skill that combines language and reasoning, but still relies on word familiarity and ability to access stored words. For my acute pts with Aphasia I developed a mini word recognition game: I would put two cards with consonants in front of a pt, for example "p" and "g" and then give them cards with all 5 vowels, and ask them to choose the vowels that would form a real word if placed between the the two consonants; so in this example 'e' (peg), 'i' (pig), and 'u' (pug). And I'd ask the pt to also tell me what each word means (often they would choose a vowel that does not make a word, and realize so when they couldn't come up with a definition). It was a multi-step simple word finding activity that first required to recognize the word, then access its meaning. In the same manner for this app, since the words are common, supplemental tasks involving word meanings can be incorporated for those pts who need it.
Screen Image 2

Goals we can target with this app: Word-finding and naming, language, reasoning, sequencing (since alphabetical order plays a large role in this game), question/answer goals (simple y/n where you ask the pt if this letter comes before that one, or if this word precedes or follows the other in the dictionary). For verbal expression deficits reading the words aloud could also be added, incorporating apraxia, dysarthria, voice, intelligibility goals as part of a fun activity.

Some specific examples:

1. For a pt working on using intelligibility strategies at word-level, this game can provide a nice set of short words to practice strategies on. Many of the words have consonant clusters, which provide great practice for exaggerating movements. And since this is a fun thinking activity, it is easier to gauge level of cuing needed to use the intelligibility strategies at word-level (since usually, a word-level task involves a rote list of words and the drill-like manner of the exercise often reminds the pt to use strategies; not that it's a bad thing to have this built-in reminder--in fact it is a great way to get the strategies practiced--but it's nice to have a halfway point where the exercise is still word-level, but the focus is elsewhere and strategy use is less in the forefront of one's mind.

2. For a pt with sequencing goals, this game is a great practice involving alphabetic order. If coming up with words is too difficult for the pt, the ST can focus only on the alphabetic sequence of letters and make word suggestions for the pt to respond. If the two flanking words are GHOST and ICONS, for example, ask the pt what letters come between G and I. If that's too hard, make it a Y/N question: Does K come between G and I? Does H? Then ascertain which letters the target word can start with (in this case G, H, I). Now say you've entered HORSE, and now the flanking words are HORSE and ICONS. What letters can our word start with? (H or I). If it's an H word, what 2nd letter can it be? (O-Z) If it's an I word, what 2nd letter can it be? (A-C). Anyway, you get the picture, just focus on sequences and then suggest the words to guess with.

3. For a pt with higher level language goals, just play the game. Add/reduce cuing as needed to come up with word guesses, and if relevant to pt's goals, ask for definitions of all suggested words.

Friday, July 13, 2012

iPad/iPhone app: Hemispheres

Hemispheres App
Hemispheres app in iTunes (regularly $0.99, sometimes free)

What it is: Solve simple math problems while mixing two colors together. On their own, each of these tasks is simple, but carrying them out at the same time is quite a bit less simple, as your brain must switch between the two problems, simultaneously engaging the logical/math and creative hemispheres. Talk about split attention task! This task is timed, which ups the difficulty level.

How we can use it in Tx: There is no easy or relaxed level, so expect pts to only be able to get through the first couple of problems (the game ends with the third error on either side; running out of time counts as an error as well). But even a couple of rounds of this game can be useful, and it's definitely something to use with higher functioning pts.

Goals we can target with this app: Attention, focus, math, and to a certain extent visual field neglect since the problems presented by the app are side-by-side, so attention to each side is needed. It is definitely a worthy brain-training tool as well.

Some specific examples: Since this app only has one level and the tasks are timed, there is not really a way to make the task simpler. Therefore, I would be weary of giving it to pts working on the very simple or basic skills. I would target pts with more advanced goals.

1. The most obvious use is for a split-attention task for higher functioning individuals with mild executive function deficits. Set as goal trying to get through as many of the problems as possible (i.e., get the highest possible score).

2. For field neglect goals, instruct the pt to focus on the weaker side's problem (e.g., for left neglect have them only solve the left-sided problem, ignoring the one on right). This will make for a short round, as concentrating only on one side will ensure the other side will run out of time and add to the count of errors, ending the round after 3. But solving 3 problems on the weak side with competing stimulus from the strong side is actually not a bad task, especially since the game can be restarted as many times as wanted (so you can ask to solve the 3 problems at a time, x5 for the entire activity).

3. Brain-training: for the regular (not rehab-patient) population, switching between the hemisphere-heavy tasks makes for a great exercise of multitasking, prioritizing, attention and focus skills.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Word List Generator (a quick update)

In March I wrote a post titled "App Wishlist: Word list Generator". Until "there's an app for that", here is a web version: Word List Generator (part of the Free-Reading project, This engine allows you to generate a word list by selecting various parameters. The ones relevant to us include word length (or number of syllables), CVC form, and initial sounds. I would have liked to also control medial context and specific phoneme parameters, but until there's something better, this can help.

I would use this to create word lists for word-level (obviously) tasks for voice practice, fluency, exercises for coordinating speech and breathing, and especially to practice intelligibility strategies.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

iPhone app: MouthOff

MouthOff App
MouthOff app in iTunes (currently free)

What it is: Purely entertainment, and yet it has been the most used app on my work iPod lately. This app has 58 reactive cartoon mouths. You pick a mouth, hold your iPhone or iPod Touch in front of your mouth, and talk (laugh, scream, whatever). The mouth moves in reaction to the sounds you make... or in reaction to any noise in a room, so in a loud room the mouths will move a lot. But in a quieter room it will match movements to your sound and make it look like the cartoon mouth is doing your talking.

How we can use it in Tx: For the most part, I use it for motivation, and frankly, to de-crabbify even the most annoyed nurses or CNAs at my SNF. This can make every person laugh out loud with delight. Sometimes the tasks we do with our patients are tedious... especially when it comes to mostly OMEs or airway protection exercises... this can just make it fun. But, being that it reacts to sound--and the louder the sound the bigger the reaction--it CAN be used for Tx with voice patients to work on volume and duration mostly. As such, it can be used much like the bla | bla | bla sound-reactive app I discuss in a previous post (see the bla | bla | bla post from 3/11/11) which lately I've been using with an MS patient with some great results.

Goals we can target with this app: I'm sticking with motivation building as an important goal (if not one I actually write for a pt); also voice, dysarthria, phonation, intonation and prosody with, for example, MS or PD patients.

Some specific examples: I think you'll see that everyone gets a kick out of this. Lately I've been walking into pts' rooms with this app in front of my mouth and just giving them a giggle before we get started. But here's a couple more ideas.

1. Play with one of the cartoon mouths with the pt to determine its maximum reaction (open mouth or tongue out, or whatever else it may be for the particular cartoon). Then have the pt look at the screen and repeat words trying to get the maximum response to either each syllable or to the stressed syllable. Write a goal for % volume at word or syllable level.

2. A more amusing variation on the first suggestion: have the pt do the same but instead of looking at the screen watching the mouth, have them hold the device in front of their own mouth in front of a mirror.

3. I feel this app can come in handy for OMEs... but I haven't quite put my finger on how yet. It'll come to me later this week I'm sure.

Monday, May 28, 2012

iPad/iPhone app: Numbers Addict Free

Numbers Addict App
Numbers Addict Free app in iTunes

What it is: A simple matching and adding game that could not be more fun (or addicting for that matter). It's reminiscent of Tetris, where balls with numbers (each number has its own color so it's easier to recognize) are stacked along a grid of 5 columns, 8 rows. You can see the next 3 balls that need to be stacked (see screen shot below).

There are 3 difficulty levels, and the "easy" one has no time limit: the balls don't drop until you place them, but a new row of balls appears at the bottom every few rounds. You have to match by number to pop them (remove them from the grid), and you need that number of balls to pop them. So you need two 2's, three 3's, four 4's, etc. to clear them. The first levels start with 1-5, and after a few completed levels you get the 6, then the 7, up to 9. You can also move two balls together to create a ball of the sum: if you move the "2" to the "1", it becomes a light blue "3" ball. The sum has to be within the limit of the highest number on that level (so on a level where you only have 1-5, you cannot make a 6 or above). You're scored by total number popped, so six 6's will give you a higher score than two 2's. There's also a paid ad-free version of this game.
Screen Shot Level 1

How we can use it in Tx: Assume you will only use the "easy" relaxed level that has no time limit, and most likely only the first few rounds of it (where you don't have to match anything above a 5). And let the pt play this game (preferably on a larger device like an iPad). Cue as needed, depending on your goals. In the specific examples section below I make some suggestions.

Goals we can target with this app: Attention and focus, following directions, math, problem-solving, scanning, sequencing, and sorting are the main ones.

Specific examples:

1. If you want to target sorting and/or visual neglect and scanning, direct the pt to sort the numbers in adjoining columns (so only put the 1's in the first column, the 2's in the second, and the 3's in the third... etc.). For added complexity ask the pt to predict when a column will get cleared (e.g., when you add the 4th "4" ball to its stack).

2. To target higher level reasoning and math, for higher functioning pts, make the game's goal to add together as many balls as possible (e.g., drag the middle "4" to the "1" below it in the screen shot to create a "5") to direct attention to the more complex possibilities within the game playing than just matching numbers and colors.

3. For a cool scanning and problem solving task ask the pt to fill up the grid with balls allowing as few as possible to pop. It's not possible to control this altogether because every few balls that are placed a new line of balls appears from below, and some of those may create a match. But the pt's task would be to go for the lowest score possible by placing the balls under their control in a way that doesn't allow two 2's or three 3's, etc. This would be a scanning-intensive task.

4. Brain-training: this is also a great app in general for exercising one's multitasking, math, problem solving, reflexes, planning ahead, prioritizing, attention and focus skills.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Neuroplsticity and Brain Training

This is a short post, not about specific apps, but all of them in general. Sort of an added goal for this blog.

Sites such as Lumosity are becoming popular with the general population for training their brain and enhancing attention and memory performance, as well as focus, organization, problem-solving, learning new things, etc. These sites and apps are based on research into neuroplsticity, and boast success stories from customers about their improved cognitive skills since starting the "workouts". As such, I decided to go back and re-tag my older posts where I discuss apps that could be used for this kind of brain training (tagging them as "brain-training") and adding a note to the "examples" section at the bottom for each app that could be useful for the purpose of enhancing cognitive function in normal adults. Whatever "normal" means...

I also went back and tagged apps relevant to brain-training with this icon.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

iPad/iPhone app: Match Panic

Match Panic app
Match Panic app in iTunes (was free for a while, now $1.99)

What it is: It is a matching game, where various tiles queue up in the middle of the screen, and you tap the right or the left to match them. Each level starts with just two tile images (see screen image #1), and every two levels or so one more is added at some point in the level (see screen image #2). It is timed, so if you don't finish a level in 30 seconds, you get a score but you don't move up to the next level (that is the only consequence). If a tile is matched to the wrong side, it turns into a sad face for a second (and costs a second of your allotted time).

Screen image #1
There's powerups too, which may add or reduce complexity of the task as they may affect the queue, e.g., by turning all visible tiles to the same shape, or "blowing up" the next few tiles in the queue, reducing the number of total tiles to be matched for that level. Powerups are a reward for a high scoring round, so a slow player isn't going to encounter this complication often. Don't let the "panic" in the app's name fool you: it's only panicky if you are gung ho about moving up levels and matching quickly. If you're playing the game in a more casual manner, there's nothing in particular that rushes you (other than the fact that the timer may run out before the level is finished, but if your goal is to play one level, no big).

Screen image #2
How we can use it in Tx: Pretty much assume you will only use the first 1-4 levels of this game, although there's nothing specific you have to do to select this. Just keep the goals simple. Turn off the sound so there's no "countdown" sound at the end of a level, and trust me, the music is super annoying anyway. It is designed to make the game feel more urgent (gives it that "panicky" flare) so it's best avoided.

This type of visual matching to right/left is a fairly good exercise for lateral neglect issues. This task is very similar to some divided attention activities that involve canceling a specific word or letter from a pageful of words/letters. Following directions is built-in, and memory plays a role as matching is easiest if one remembers the tiles on each side instead of having to compare each tile. As the number of tile shapes increases, so does the complexity of each of these tasks, including memory.

Goals we can target in Tx with this app: Following directions, sequencing, sorting, focus/attention, divided attention, scanning, visual neglect, and of course memory. This is also a great app for brain-training for the general population.

Some specific examples: Although this is a simple one-dimensional activity, I think it can be used in a variety of ways for different fxn levels and goals. Here are some examples.

1. For a slow, focused approach, possibly for a lower-fxn pt, prioritize accuracy of matching rather than total tiles matched, and ask the pt to take their time but send the fewest possible tiles to the wrong side. Let the progress be as slow as it needs to be, and set as goal for the task a limited number of tiles (10 or 20, for example). Have the pt count out each tile that is matched, and keep track of how many were initially matched incorrectly (then you can calculate % accuracy easily).

2. For a more advanced pt you can prioritize overall completion: Don't count how many were matched incorrectly (although that will play a role as each incorrect match reduces the level's time) and ask the pt to go through as much of the queue as possible in the allotted time. Calculate accuracy by points scored (since it's difficult to calculate percent of queue completed--you only see a piece of the queue at a time with no hint as to how much of it is still to come; if they ever add a % completed counter to this game it would be even better for Tx).

3. For visual neglect goals prioritize the neglected side, and ask the pt to say out loud the tile on that side each time it is encountered. So for example, focusing on the left side of the level in Screen image #1, each time a cactus is encountered have the pt say "cactus" before touching the left side. That way, not only is matching required on the weaker side, but it's also emphasized verbally.

4. Brain-training: This app is also great for normally (or close to normally) functioning individuals who want to get some cognitive training. This kind of thing is now popular with sites such as Lumosity, with more popping up. Everyone wants a piece of this neuroplasticity performance training. And if you feel the need for brain training, an app like this matching one will certainly do the trick as an attention-enhancing activity much like those offered on the paid "brain training" sites.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Dropbox Free App for Any Device

Dropbox free app
Free app for your iOS devices via iTunes, Android device via Android Market, Kindle from Amazon App store, Nook from Barnes & Noble, and your computer or mobile device (including Windows, Mac, Linux and Blackberry) from

What it is: Dropbox is cloud storage. That means your files sit on a server accessible to you from your computer, phone and other devices via the Dropbox software or the web (you can just as easily view and manage your Dropbox files using a web browser by going to and signing in). Anyone who signs up gets free 2GB of space, and it's expandable up to 18GB via referrals (500MB per referral). If you create an account using a referral (for example, using this link which would be a referral from me: Get Dropbox) you get an extra 500MB free, as does the referring party. You can also have a paid account, starting with 50GB for $10/month (& a lot more per referral). I think most users find the free account sufficient (you can have more than one account if you need, but you can only link one account at a time to a device or computer; you can access as many accounts as you want if you're using a web browser). Your files are password protected and safe. You can also share specific files or folders with other Dropbox users, or make them public to share on the web (or via, say, Facebook).

Why would you need cloud storage? Here are my main uses for it:
1. Backing up files
2. Archiving files
3. Sharing files
4. Accessing files

I use it to backup up files quickly (in case something happens to my computer), archive files off my phone (e.g., photos if want to remove them from the phone but don't want to delete them and haven't had a chance to copy them to my PC yet), share files with others, and most importantly, make some of my files accessible to myself at any time from anywhere.

One of the beautiful things about Dropbox is its amazing integration into a variety of applications for Android and Apple devices. There are a ton of 3rd party applications that include export to or save to Dropbox options.

There's also a ton of 3rd party programs that integrate with Dropbox and let you CREATE, EDIT, export as PDFs, and EMAIL your Dropbox files. It's like having a portable hard drive that you can access from anywhere without having to actually port it.

How is it relevant to ST? While this app is not involved in any direct Tx, it is where I keep a backup of all my materials; if I do need to print a worksheet, I can access these files from any web browser and print to an attached computer. I don't have to plug in a flash drive or configure printing from my device. As long as there is a computer attached to a printer, and it has a web browser, I can log in to my Dropbox account, print any file, and log out.

In a previous post I described how I carry all my materials using a Nook Tablet, and that I have a copy of all these materials on Dropbox (here's a link to that post: Device: Nook Tablet). It's one of the fastest ways to get my documents into a device like Nook, iPad or a smartphone. Between the device I carry that is loaded with the PDFs I use in treatment, and nearly universal access to my materials via Dropbox, I have ALL of my resources at my fingertips.

Examples: There's not really specific examples of how I use this in Tx because this is about access to all my materials. But here are some examples of where I've benefited from having all my materials on Dropbox:

1. In one of my facilities, the only way to print is via the tech's laptop, and she's the only one with access to it. So when I need something I access Dropbox via my iPhone app, find the files I need and email them to the tech. This creates minimum interruption in the tech's work flow to get my materials printed.

2. I like to have all my materials on my Nook. I had made an updated document for a cogn eval I was using, and saved it to the folder where I keep these resources on my PC--a Dropbox folder. I forgot to hook my tablet up to the PC to transfer the file, and needed it at work the following day. Logged into dropbox in a room that has wifi, and copied to my local files on the Nook. Ready to use in pt's rooms (where there's no access to wifi).

3. I needed some materials printed, and the only computer attached to printer at one of my facilities is really old, slow, and its USB port is broken. But it has a browser, so I logged into Dropbox using the browser, and printed my files. Even if I could have used my flashdrive (which I also carry everywhere; I'm a bit OCD) it would have taken longer. But as such, I don't really need my flashdrive or have to worry about keeping its files synched.

4. I have a folder on Dropbox I share with other SLPs, and we use it as a convenient way to share resources with each other.

Well, you get the picture. No matter what device you use if any, if you have files on Dropbox, you can always access them from any computer or device with internet connection.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

iPad/iPhone app: Spot Venture

Spot Venture app
Spot Venture from iTunes (free for a while)

What it is: A spot the difference game that is pretty straight forward and doable (unlike some that are so confusing they aren't even fun). You get 2 minutes per level, which is a lot of time to spot 5 differences for a regular player, but may not be quite enough time for a cogn pt (see ideas to get around that below). The nice thing is that the drawings are really clear and the differences are definitely visible to the naked eye (again, unlike some other spot the difference games I've seen for the iPad).

How we can use it in Tx: Obviously, play the spot-the-difference game. If your pt is able to, let them play the game as is, with the 2 minute limit on each level. If they need cues, figure out how much cuing you want to provide (see specific examples below). If they need extra, or unlimited, time, you can take a screenshot of the level at the start (with no differences found or circled yet) and use the screenshot in a photo annotating app to circle the differences. You can print them out too if you want (by emailing the screenshot to yourself).

Screen image #1: simple easy to see differences
This game has an additional task on every level, and some of these tasks include a useful "divided attention" aspect. See for example the screen image of the level with balloons (below, screen image #2). The task on this level is to find the 5 differences, as always, but also to pop the balloons as they come up on the right screen of the game. The balloons come out fairly slowly: I captured one of the few times that two balloons were on the screen at the same time; mostly it's one at a time with a delay, so it's not like a fast-paced balloon-popping game. This makes the player have to look for differences while periodically clearing the screen of balloons, and if any balloons are missed it doesn't affect the game playing (possibly the score, but nothing else). Perfect for focus-related goals.

Goals we can target in Tx with this app: Memory, visual field neglect and scanning, attention/focus and following directions come to mind. Some reasoning is involved, but this is more about visual tasks than solving problems.

Screen image #2: divided attention with balloons
Some specific examples:

1. For a higher fxn level pt who is able play the game within the 2 minute limit per levels, decide on how much cuing to provide. For example, I often ask the pt to find the first 2 differences independently, and then provide assistance (direction or hints) for the rest.

2. For a pt that needs extra time, use a screenshot of each level in a photo annotating app and circle the differences as you find them without a time limit. Don't forget to set your screen timeout to something long like 5 minutes so the screen doesn't go dark mid-task. For an added delayed-memory component, after finding the differences on the screenshot, go back to the game itself, and mark them within the game (this time going mostly from memory of having just found them). Then move up a level, take a new screenshot, and repeat.

3.  You can also print the screenshot (if you don't have a compatible printer, which most of us don't, you can just email yourself the screenshot and print anywhere, on BW or color printer). It takes a little more advanced planning, but it's just as good if you'd prefer to use a paper version for this task. In that case, you'll just be using the app as a source for spot-the-diff images.

4. For a pt with visual field neglect specify which side to mark the found differences on (both sides must be compared, which is good for this goal, but if you want to draw attention to a specific side then suggest that is the one where differences are to be marked; either side will work for marking differences within the app). You may also choose to alternate which side is marked as you go up levels.

In summary, there's not a lot more to this. It's a spot-the-difference task. Such tasks in workbooks are often drawn as cartoons (rather than photographs) so the cartoon quality of this app does not stand out as abnormal for this task aimed at adult populations. It's something that can be done in a lot of ways that does not involve an ipad, but it is extra fun and in some ways quicker as well as more versatile on the pad.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

iPad/iPhone app: Word Cracker (free for a while)

Word Cracker app
iPhone/iPad app: Word Cracker in iTunes (free for a while)

What it is: A word game where you are presented with (mostly) common words with missing vowels, which you have to fill in. In terms of game options, there are 3 settings that affect difficulty level: First, there's a choice of how much information is missing from the target words: you can have the words presented without spaces (e.g., "VWLS" for VOWELS), and you have to figure out which vowels to put and where, or you can go a level easier by having the word presented with blanks where the vowels go (e.g., "V_W_LS" for VOWELS), and all you have to do is figure out which vowels to insert. Second, and a nice benefit for Tx purposes, you can control how much time is given for each round: in minutes the choices are 1, 3, 5 or infinite, which is equivalent to untimed. Third, there are 3 levels of word difficulty: easy, hard or random. There's also a multi-player option, but that's less interesting for us

To play the game, you are presented with the vowel-less word, and the vowels (a, e, i, o, u) below it, and you drag the vowels into the appropriate spaces in the word. As far as I can tell, when there's more than one vowel option to form a word, the game will accept any of possible vowels. You can also "pass" turns if a word is too difficult, which is nice. And if you submit an incorrectly spelled word, you lose some points but you can continue the game nevertheless. Easy levels, ability to pass, un-timed option and "redos" are what make this word game especially useful for Tx purposes.

Screenshot of game
How we can use it in Tx: Simple answer to this: play the game with your patient. Decide how much cuing to provide (e.g., word definition or example of use), and which words to pass if they are too difficult. But be aware that the easy level of this game is still not that easy (it certainly doesn't qualify as an easy level language task). You can reduce difficulty by inserting all vowels but one in each word, and letting your pt figure out the last vowel only (and pass difficult words).

Goals we can target in Tx with this app: Apraxia, and other language goals. Some reasoning and sequencing is involved in playing this game, but mostly it's about accessing language information and recognizing the words. Surprisingly, I cannot think of a useful way to address memory goals with this app (if you look at my previous posts, you'll see that I can almost always think of memory-related applications to any task) but give me time...

Some specific examples:

1. The most obvious use for language goals is to play the game, at whatever difficulty level is most beneficial to pt, and choosing the amount of cuing to provide. If you need to make the game easier than the easy level with vowel locations marked by blanks, you can add all the vowels but one (in most cases the words have at least 2 missing vowels). You can further reduce the difficulty by narrowing the choice down to just two vowels (e.g., for the word in the screenshot above "str_ng_" add the final "e", and then ask the pt if it's missing an "a" or an "o"; and if needed you can use the two choices and ask "is 'strange' a word or is 'stronge" a word?"). Additional cues can be added with descriptions or definitions. If you want to up the difficulty a little (not so much as to move the word difficulty to "hard" or "random") you can let the pt fill in the vowels and then ask them to provide a definition and/or have them use the word in a sentence. Basically start with what the game provides, and add cues or additional tasks as needed for each pt's goals.

2. For lowest-level language goals, a good task is to work on text/word recognition. Set the game to easy level with no time limit and showing blanks, and pass any words that seem too difficult (here's an easy way to determine: if you couldn't tell what the word is at first glance, it may be too hard for a low-level lang goal pt). Add all but one vowel, and then that last one--fill in with the correct or the wrong vowel and ask the pt if it's a word or not. Determine accuracy based on how many correct words are recognized as such, and how many incorrect words are recognized as non-words.

3. Apraxia goals (this is what I've used it for, with very good results): just play the game at whatever level is appropriate for your patient. Play it together, so if the pt can't figure out the more complex words, help (I cue with either a definition or description at first, but then I'll say the actual word if my pt needs it--this particular pt still needs to see the word written and also benefits from hearing it spoken to attempt to produce it). I have the pt figure out the vowels by saying the word (giving the answer to the puzzle verbally) and then I move the vowels into position (my pt does not have use of his dominant hand or the dexterity in his other hand to grab the vowels on the screen). Once the vowels are in place I have the pt repeat the word again. So we use this game to access higher level language as well as for spoken language practice. I find that my pt is able to produce words with complex consonant clusters that are normally much more difficult for him because attention is on solving the puzzle instead of on how hard it is to produce the sounds. This has been a great find for treatment with the apraxia pt!

Friday, April 27, 2012

iPad/iPhone apps: ABA Flash Cards (free)

ABA Animals Flash Cards
ABA Food Flash Cards
ABA Alphabet Flash Cards
ABA Flash Cards Food free app from iTunes
ABA Flash Cards Animals free app from iTunes
ABA Flash Cards Alphabet free app from iTunes
[It's possible that these apps are only free in April 2012]

What it is: These are three flashcard collections, each one is a separate app, from Obviously these apps are intended for young 'uns, but settings can be customized to use with adult populations. Each app has a nice collection of mostly common words (animals, foods, and a word that starts with each letter of the alphabet). The animals and foods apps contain over 100 words, and the alphabet app has, obviously, 26 words.

Screen Image 1
As you can see in screen image 1, each word is presented as a picture and text (text labels can be turned off). There is an audio for each word, which also can be turned off (I prefer to read the words if needed instead of using the included audio because the audio just sounds like it's talking to kids, which of course it is). Other customization settings allow you to choose alphabetic or random order, and you can select which of the 100+ words to show, hiding the ones you know you won't use. Or you can just skip them as you go (that's what I do). As you flip through the flash cards, you can mark cards with the green checkmark or the red cross, or you can just flip through them without marking. The "i" at the top left of each card takes you to settings, and the graph icon on the right of the "i" takes you to the Data page.

Screen Image 2
The built in statistics make this app extremely useful for Tx (see screen image 2). It shows you how many cards have been shown (flipped through), how many were marked with checks (=correct) and how many were marked with cross (=incorrect), as well as how many remained unanswered (if I didn't bother removing some cards from the deck, I just bypass them and leave unanswered). So you can easily get accuracy measure (in this example, I don't count the ones I passed over, so there were 6 total cards attempted, of which 4 were correct). Below these stats you also get an overview of which cards were correct or not ("N" in the list = incorrect, "Y"=correct, and a blank would be unanswered). And as long as you haven't closed the app, you can go over the entire deck again and re-try the incorrect cards (or just read them from the list in stats) if it suits your needs. As you can see, there's also an "email" button if you want to email yourself the stats. I haven't tried that yet, but I'm sure it's straightforward.

How we can use it in Tx: Basically these apps are collections of vocabulary words with pictures, text, audio, descriptions, and some built in customization and stats. As an aside, there's a few other options that would only come in handy if working with kiddos (like reinforcement and chimes), so if you're interested in using the apps for the intended population be aware there's still more to love. As far as my intended population, adults, go, there's a few ways I can imagine using these apps for word-finding goals: I'd remove the text label and let pts name the words from pictures, or from the descriptions (the "description" button at the bottom of each card includes text and audio), or from both. I can use almost any app for memory work: choose a few words and ask the pt to remember them whether in sequence or not. But what I've used these cards the most for is my apraxia pt who is only just starting to be able to repeat words. This pt benefits from seeing the word he is trying to say in print (he does not need the picture, but it doesn't hurt, and down the road I'll want him to generate the words without modeling or seeing the text). This pt benefits especially from practicing the same list over and over, and from being able to go back and re-try the words he couldn't produce at first attempt. So basically, I use these apps for easy access to word lists with built-in text labels and built-in stats. He is starting to be able to say the words without having them modeled, although he periodically asks me to say it first. We have started short phrases, and I generate those using these flashcards (e.g., if he can say "cupcake" I ask him to also say "sweet cupcake", and on good days I add a carrier sentence like "I like cupcakes" and "I want bacon").

Goals we can target with these apps: The main goal I've used these apps for has been apraxia-related, but I think these could obviously be used for word-finding goals, descriptions, categorization, and other language-related tasks including some reasoning (name the word from its description). And as always memory: auditory or visual presentation of a group of related words followed by recall.

Some specific examples:

1.  For memory goals, as I mention above, present a pt with 3, 4, 5, or 6 words at a time either in pictures, in both pictures and text, or by speaking them and assess % recalled. For an easier level task you can use the food or animal apps so the word lists are of related items, and for a slightly more difficult level use the alphabet app because those words aren't related in meaning.

2. For language goals you can use the alphabet flash cards where there's a word for each letter of the alphabet, you can ask the pt to come up with 1-3 additional words for each letter.

3. For word-finding goals simply show the picture (without text label) of each card and let the pt name it. If they are having trouble, read the description to them and see if that helps find the word. It's a great strategy to teach pts with word-finding issues.

4. For my own apraxia pt I use the app to repeat common words, generate common words, repeat short phrases, and repeat/generate short sentences. I love having such easy access to the stats: when we go through the word list we can stop at any point, whether it's after 10, 40 or all 108 words, and I note the % words repeated after the first pass, then we do a second pass of the words he couldn't say at first. Currently he is normally able to repeat about 60-75% of the words at first pass, and then tries again the ones he couldn't do, ending with 90% repeated. Phoneme accuracy is a different story, and that I have to assess subjectively.