Friday, March 30, 2012

iPhone/iPad and Android app: Word to Word

Word to word
Word to Word app (from iTunes, currently free; from Barnes & Noble $0.99; and from Android Market $0.99)

What it is: A word association game. You get a list of words in column A, a list in column B, and you have to find pairs of words related either by being synonyms of each other, antonyms, or they may form a phrase together. The levels get more complex as more than one option from column B is possible for words from column A (or vice-versa), but only one combination will result in every word being paired up. A couple of examples of word pairs: salt-grains, college-coeds, zero-nought and thief-snatcher.

How we can use it in Tx: As you can see from the types of word pairs that have to be found, playing this game involves thinking about words and word use in a variety of ways and from different angles. It's not just about knowing the strict definitions of each word, but also about knowing how to use the word grammatically and pragmatically. In short, it is an easy game to learn, but involves some complex language skills. The game is not timed, which allows for as much time cuing a pt as needed to get the pairs of words figured out. As complexity of the levels is raised, having to negotiate more than one possible pairing for each word can bring in additional language use skills and the need to think up sentences with the game words (as part of the word game rather than a rote worksheet/drill).

Goals we can target in Tx with this app: Language goals, word-finding, a certain amount of problem solving goals (when there's more than one pair choice, how does one decide which to select?), even STM

Some specific examples:

1. For a pt with word-finding goals, take the words in column A and generate antonyms, synonyms and phrases that involve those words. Then look at column B to see if any of the words generated are in that column. Measure accuracy of this task by accuracy of the generated associated-word list (not by whether the generated list included the actual paired word from column B).

2. Higher level language goals can be addressed with the aforementioned additional task of generating sentences with either the target word from column A, its pair from column B, or both.

3. STM: I actually used this game for this with a pt who loves word puzzles. First we solved a puzzle level, then I presented words from that level and asked pt to recall the paired answer. It was more fun than recalling a random list of words or images, and the task provides context for the recalled information.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

iPad app: More Cookies!

More Cookies App
More cookies (free for a short time, usually $0.99) from iTunes

What it is: Bake virtual cookies using a recipe or "pre-made" dough; add ingredients, mix, cut into shapes, bake and decorate. If you want you can save your creations to your album, email them, or "eat" them. With the recipe option you choose the type of cookie you want to make, and then drag ingredients to a mixing bowl (with extra steps like cracking the eggs) and then swirl your finger to mix the dough. With "pre-made" you also get to choose the type of cookie, and with some you have to roll out the dough and cut it in to shapes, and with others just drag pieces of cookie dough to the pan. With both options you have to lay the cookies in the pan (if you're not careful how you lay them out, you may not fit them all) and then bake them, followed by decorating (you have a ton of options for icing, sprinkles, candy, fruit/nuts, and weird stuff).

Here is my creation for the purpose of this blog: it was a pre-made version of sugar cookies, cut into bunny shape, with yellow frosting, purple sugar sprinkles, and gummy brains!! What, I'd totally eat it!!

How we can use it in Tx: The most obvious way to use this is as a direction-following task. The app provides some of the directions (add ingredients, mix, roll out dough, cut into shapes, place on pan, bake, decorate...) and we can provide additional ones that can also be more open-ended (frost with any of the choices, add some sprinkles and a couple of candies, or more specific like "add two nuts and 3 candies"). Some sequencing can be implemented in the decorating part.

Reasoning can also be involved in requesting a batch of cookies appropriate for, say, a holiday that occurs at the end of October. Access to the "weird stuff" for decorating (things like bacon, jalapenos and fried egg) opens up possibilities for question/answer tasks, decision making, and explaining why to use or not use a particular ingredient.

I think I can even get some memory work out of this app: the "from scratch" option shows recipes for the cookies. One needn't remember the amount needed of each ingredient to play, but a pt could be asked to look over the recipe, and for example remember how much vanilla or how many eggs were needed; then when the cookies are done and decorated delayed recall could be assessed.

Even scanning and sorting can be addressed by decorating a cookie with a lot of different things and one weird one, and asking the pt to search for the it or count how many marshmallows there are, or something similar. Decorating the cookies and laying them out in a pan to bake can address visual field neglect deficits.

For an extra bit of fun I would save pictures of the virtual cookies and print them for the pt, especially if the cookies are "prepared" for an upcoming holiday.

Goals we can target in Tx with this app: Direction following, sequencing, memory, question/answer, reasoning/problem-solving, scanning.

Some specific examples:

I give some ideas in the "How we can use it" section above, but here are some more specific examples:

1. For sequencing and/or scanning goals: Create a cookie with 1 of one topping (say, 1 marshmallow), 2 of another (say gummy bears), 3 of another (chocolate chip), 4 of another and 5 of yet another. Ask pt to list the toppings in order of how many there is of each from lowest to highest.

2. For memory (immediate, short term, delayed or spaced retrieval) goals: Start with the making cookies from scratch option, and while scanning the recipe tell the pt to remember how many total ingredients were needed (or how many ingredients that add sweetness to the recipe there are). Tell the pt that after the cookies are made and decorated you will ask for this information (or, if you're working on spaced retrieval, ask for this information as soon as you move to the next screen, then with each next step and again at the end).

3. For direction-following goals: In the "from scratch" option where ingredients are added to the bowl one at a time, ask the pt to add all the dry ingredients first and then all the wet ones.

4. For problem-solving/reasoning goals: Give a scenario that involves an occasion (either a specific holiday, or the time of year for one so the pt has to figure that part out first, or another type of occasion) and ask the pt to decorate cookies for that occasion, choosing the most appropriate shapes and colors.

5. For visual field neglect goals: Work on spacing the cookies on the pan before baking, making sure the whole pan is used (you can bake up to 12 cookies at a time, so ask the pt to fit all 12 in... this would require extra care). Draw attention to the neglected side of the cookie, and make sure it is decorated the same as the strong side. Or request specific differences between the two sides to require attention to both (e.g., make a gingerbread man and frost the left side of his body one color and the right another).

Thursday, March 22, 2012

App Wishlist: Word List Generator

There are a few dedicated apps for speech therapy, most of which are too expensive for me to consider for their one dedicated use. I prefer random FREE apps that I can utilize to address a variety of goals. But there are a few dedicated apps I'd consider paying for. One such app would be a WORD LIST GENERATOR.

What it would be: I'd like to see an app that would let me input parameters (inclusion/exclusion of certain sounds or clusters of sounds, their location in the word such as word-initial, medial, intervocalic, final, and syllable numbers) and spit out a list of, preferably common, words. I'd like for this app to use the built in dictionary in iPhone/iPad so that I wouldn't be tied to a WiFi connection to use this app (I'm not sure if there is such a thing in Android devices, but if yes, then the same requirement).

What I would use it for: I would use it to address intelligibility and voice goals mostly, for PD patients and any other dysarthrias. If there were semantic parameters included, I could also generate words to use for language goals.

Is it possible there is already such a thing and I don't know about it? If so, let me know!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Device: Nook Tablet

Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet

Time to look at something other than apps that target a limited selection of goals. Most of the apps I've discussed so far have been for the iPad or iPhone, but what I carry with me every day to work is my Nook. It is a good tablet, at $200 for 8GB and $250 for 16GB much cheaper than the iPad3 (even with the iPad2 dropping to $400 for 16GB), but it's clunky and slower. I use it mostly for its ability to display and notate PDF files and pictures.While it's nice to have additional apps that can target specific goals in a variety of useful and creative ways, I use the Nook for the bread and butter of my clinical practice: all my materials. Let's start with an overview of this device:

Features: The Nook Tablet is Barnes & Noble's fastest tablet. It has a color 7" touch screen that is extremely clear and very high resolution (iPad is closer to 10", and I believe iPad2's resolution was less than Nook Tablet's, but iPad3 wins over all the rest); the Nook Tablet weighs 14.1 oz (iPad is 1.44 lb), and its battery lasts for 11.5 hrs of reading or 9 hrs of video. It has wireless (802.11b/g/n), and free in-store (B&N) tech support (that can come in handy I imagine). There is no camera, but the Nook Tablet has a microphone and expandable memory in the form of a microSD card slot (the other tablet on the market that it most resembles, Amazon's Kindle Fire, does not have a microphone or SDCard capabilities).

OS and apps: The Nook Tablet is an Android device. Barnes & Noble do not give you access to the Android Market; you have to buy all apps and books through their store. Amazon's Kindle Fire has the same story (no access to Android Market, and you have to purchase apps and books through Amazon). So you only have access to the content these manufacturers approve. This is of course the same story with apple's devices, it's just that apple's store IS the equivalent of Android Market because no other manufacturers run iOS; there's plenty to whine about with Apple's often strict monitoring of what apps they'll allow to be sold, but the benefit is that anything released will work on the devices because there is no difference in the hardware. When it comes to Android devices the hardware is very different among them. Some have microphones and cameras, some don't, some have text-to-speech capabilities, some don't (Nook Tablet doesn't), and so on. If you do find a way to purchase apps from Android Market (for example if you root your device, which is the Android equivalent of "jailbreaking" an iDevice) you will not be limited to only those that work with your hardware and may find yourself disappointed in some cases.

Content: Just a quick note on ways you can get your own files onto your Nook Tablet. You can attach it via USB to your computer and just drag and drop files directly into either the internal memory or the SD card (if you have one inserted). You can email them to yourself and set up your email on the Nook Tablet, or you can use cloud storage (like DropBox). I'm a huge fan of DropBox and will certainly discuss it in future posts (if you link through the link I provide here, and create an account, you will get extra free space for being referred by me, as will I for referring... what, it's a win-win).

How I use it in Tx: On my Nook Tablet's SD card I have set up all my materials in PDF form. I have the following main directories: Memory, Puzzles, Problem Solving, Directions, Scanning, Sequences, Language, Voice, Fluency, Evals, Dysphagia, and Resources. Some of these materials I need printed (for example the scanning activities, and some of the word puzzles) but almost everything else I can use right off the device. Through a third party $3 PDF reader (called ezPDF) I can set up a directory structure where I copy (not move) the files I want to use for specific pt's to their own directories, and annotate those files as I use them (keeping track of when I did what, % accuracy, and whatever else I want). I use a stylus to write on the screen, but a finger would do the job as well.

Examples: Most of my materials can be used in one of two ways: I either read stuff off the Nook for the pt, or I let the pt view something on the Nook's screen. I then mark it (with the device facing me, usually) and move on to another page. The Nook lets you zoom in on any parts of the page and view thumbnails. The screenshots here are from my actual notes from doing the tasks with pts.

(1) The screenshot on the left is an example of a word-list task I created myself of homographs and homonyms, where I asked the pt to define each word and then use it in a sentence, then marked accuracy. In the green rectangles I notated the date of when I did each part (I spread it over several sessions so it wouldn't get too tedious). For this task there was no reason for the pt to view the screen at all.

(2) There used to be a screenshot on the right of an example where I actually show my patient something on the Nook; it was a problem-solving in pictures task from Therasimplicity. They have complained, apparently, that showing a screen image of one page of their resources is an infringement of copyright, so I have removed it. All the removed screenshot was meant to illustrate was that there are tasks that require the patients to view the screen; I show each problem-solving picture and ask to identify the problem, and can keep track of accuracy identifying the problem right on the screen. Once the problem is established, I can also rate whether it was solved directly on the screen. Then I sift through the pictures quickly (one picture per page) to count accuracy. I can also keep track of cuing levels right on the screen.

Why this works for me: In my facility I don't have a lot of space to leave my materials, and even if I did, I wouldn't have them available when I'm doing rounds. So I used to carry all my handouts and copies of everything in a bag. Ouch. Now I have everything in the Nook, and if I want to prepare materials for pts in advance I can, and if I want something else I have all my materials on this device and can select what to use at POS. Up goes productivity, down goes weight I have to carry, and I greatly reduce the time I spend at home thinking about it. A nice benefit is also that I have access and record of pretty much all the materials I used with each pt (but without any identifying information, using only initials for pt folders). It did take a few very busy evenings of getting all my materials set up as PDFs. Some I scanned (most scanners will save as PDF files), some I retyped and then printed to PDF (although the Nook will just as easily let you work with Word or Text files), and some I downloaded as PDFs. Now when I create something new (like the homographs/homonyms task pictured above) I just PDF and copy to the Nook instead of printing and making copies for each pt (I also keep a copy of everything on dropbox for safekeeping and easy access for printing if needed). As an aside, making all the PDFs gave me the opportunity to create variations of materials the way I like them (e.g., I had bedside cogn evals from 3 different hospitals which I drew on to make my own that I like best).

Summary: Having all my materials on the nook allows me easy access to all my resources without having to break my back or spend time searching. I can go to any new facility and be just as ready as I am at my home one. I can select resources at point of service, which doesn't only increase productivity but also allows me flexibility if something I thought would work didn't. And the nook is just not attractive enough (like the iPad) where everyone wants to touch it and look at it... I know that doesn't sound like a benefit, but it is.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

iPhone app: Appzilla (90 apps in 1), free app

Appzilla free app
Appzilla! 90 apps in 1 in iTunes

What it is: A utility app with a little bit of everything... it's almost easier to sum up what it isn't. There are 90 mini apps in Appzilla, each does just one thing, and don't expect all of them to be useful. But some of them are rather good, which is amazing for a free app. Herein I will comment on the mini-apps that may be useful for ST, but to be sure there's quite a few utilities included that are useful to anyone, just not relevant to therapy (like area code look-up, currency converter, and battery life gauge). Since there are so many of these utilities, and most have limited uses, the format of this post will be a little different than usual. I briefly sum up the basic uses and goals that can be addressed by each utility rather than have a separate heading for goals and treatment suggestions as I usually do. But I'll try to give examples, especially for those utilities that seem far fetched as useful :-). Expect to constantly be amazed that this collection of utilities is free!

List of utilities included in Appzilla that may be useful for Speech Therapy:

Note: Some of these utils that gather information from the internet (like dictionary and news related ones) will need a server connection to work (if you use your iPhone you're fine, if you use iPod-touch or iPad, you'll need to be connected to wifi). Most of the utils don't need it though. I'll try to note which do below.

1. Bleep button (no, really): Just a button that you touch and it bleeps. Can be useful as part of a host of activities that we already do. For example, a memory/focus/attention task where a pt has to react to a specific suit or number or card in a deck: this bleep could be used as the manifestation of said reaction (i.e., pt presses the bleep button every time they see a red card or a spade as the cards are drawn one at a time). Another example is for a sorting/categorizing task, where the pt shuffles through cards with common pictures on them, and presses "bleep" for pictures that belong to certain categories (I like to have household items in pictures, and ask the pt to name each item--working on word-finding--and also pick out the ones that belong in a particular room in the house, say the kitchen).

2. Buzzer: Basically the same as the bleep one, but with a red button for buzzer sound and a green one with a ding. I wouldn't use them for their seemingly intended purpose (red for wrong and green for right) but a variation of the tasks I mention above could work: if a pt is looking for red cards in a deck, press the red buzzer for black and the green ding for red. This would be an easier task than just pressing one "bleep" button for red because having to respond to each card would make it easier to remember to respond... so it can be implemented for the simpler versions of the same goals.

3. Coin flip: I haven't thought of anything yet, but I *know* there's something I can do with it in Tx.

4. Cook timer: This thing is awesome: it has a picture of 4 electric stove burners and 2 oven doors. You activate each and a timer starts for that cooker. I love time-management games (you know, where you play the cook and customers ask for specific foods and you have to put them together in a certain order, taking care of all the customers... like the free and super fun iPad game "Order up" or the iPhone game "Bonnie's Brunch") and I think they would be useful for a host of cogn-comm goals, but they tend to be difficult and complicated. Using this utility is not as fun, but it can be a lot less stressful: the task would be to pretend you're cooking a meal and have to cook 2, 3 or 4 different things that each take different times to prep and cook. It would be great to have hard copies of pictures of foods... so for example you have to get the buns ready then you can put the hamburger on the stove and cook for 3 minutes, and in the meantime get the pasta ready and cook that for 4. That's a lot of directions to sort through (problem-solving, sequencing, direction following, reasoning) and would require some extra prep of materials, but once ready it can be adjusted to a lot of goals and a lot of deficit levels (make it simpler, make it more complex).

5. VU meter: Amazing that it is part of a free package! Visual feedback to sound levels... what can't you do with it in speech therapy?! For specific ideas see one of my previous blog entries, about the Bla | Bla | Bla app.

6. Dice roll: A few weeks ago I bought a game on Amazon called "math dice" (actually, I bought the Math Dice Jr. version, linked here, because it came with bigger dice and a carrying pouch). In this game you roll the 12-sided target die to get a number, and then roll the other 5 dice and try to reach the target number using addition and subtraction only; the more dice you use in your calculation to reach the target number, the more spaces you get to move on the progress board. I've used it in Tx for memory (to recall rules), problem-solving, reasoning, sequencing and more specific math-related goals if called for. If I don't have the game with me, I can make a virtual version of it using this utility. And loads of other game-like tasks could use this utility if you don't have dice available (I don't know about you, but my phone is always with me while my lucky dice I don't tend to bring to work...).

7. Dictionary: There's always a reason to have one around... I believe this one needs a server connection to function.

8. Drum pad: I don't know what I'm gonna do with it yet, but I'm sure it'll come in handy... eventually.

9. Grill timer: Variation of the cook timer but with only 4 burners (and link to cooking times for various foods). Could be used similarly to what I wrote in #4 above.

10. Hearing test: You'd think it's useful (if not particularly clinical) but it's mostly for high frequency sounds. Still, it's relevant to our field so I figured I'd mention it.

11. Facts, GoogNews, Horoscope, Hot Topics, Lyrics: These are examples of included utils that can be used to generate conversation topics if needed. Sometimes you just need free-style open-ended conversation (to address anything from pragmatics to focus to memory to voice and fluency). I think all of these require a server connections to function.

12. Match it: 4 x 5 card memory game with a choice of themes for the pictures. It keeps track of time, but doesn't limit players in how much time they can use, which makes it much more accessible for memory-impaired pts. It's super cute, and likely the only memory game you'd need.

13. Metronome: I can't believe there's a free one included! I was looking for one for an SLP friend a few weeks ago and couldn't find a good free one... and here it is in this generous collection of utilities. Its uses are obvious for pacing and fluency.

14. Reaction time: A simple game where you have to tap the screen as fast as you can when the light turns to green (options are green, yellow and red). I don't know if I'd use it all that much, but I can see it coming in handy at some point... Even if just as a memory/focus/attention task (goal for pt to remember to tap the screen when the green light comes on).

15. Rhymes: Give it a word and it'll look up rhymes (needs network connection or wifi to function). There's plenty that can be done with this... I used it with a pt when we were composing a simple poem together (honestly, it was a functional task and very appropriate for that pt... but this post is already getting long so you'll just have to trust me on that hahaha).

16. Tally: You can keep track of up to 4 tallies, where you just touch the screen for each tally to add to it. You can use it to keep track of just about anything; for example, if you want to keep track of % correct items on a task, you can select 2 items to score, keep track of correct ones on the first, and of all items on the second, and at the end see what percentage the first is from the second count. When I do problem solving scenarios, I keep track of % problems ID'ed and % solutions provided; with this tool I'd choose 3 tallies to keep track of, make the first ID, the 2nd solving, and the 3rd total scenarios. At the end of the task I'd have a very quick idea of task accuracy. If you're doing a stuttering eval you can keep track of disfluencies; pretty much anything, this tool will let you count it faster than keeping track on paper, and without alerting the pt to what you're keeping track of (or how many they got right or wrong). Very simple and efficient.

17. Translator: English/Spanish only; may need server connection to function.

18. Trip Wire: Sound activated where you select the trigger threshold, and it sounds a buzzer if there is sound louder than the threshold. Yet another visual feedback to sound tool that can be used for pts with voice or fluency goals.

iPhone/iPad app Bla | Bla | Bla: A Sound Reactive App

Bla | Bla | Bla free app
Bla | Bla | Bla - Sound Reactive app Available in iTunes

What it is: 16 cute faces that react to sound, for example by opening their eyes and mouth wider, varying their reaction to correspond to the volume of the sound: The louder the sound, the greater the reaction from the faces. The length of the reaction also corresponds to the sound: The longer the sound, the longer the face is held in reaction mode. This app is free and it works on iPhone, iPad and iPod-touch. This is one of the apps that, for Tx,  works just as well on a small device (iPod or iPhone) and does not require the iPad to be useful. Oh and it's super fun to watch the faces change in response to sound!

How we can use it in Tx: While this is not a measure of clarity or intelligibility, it can be a useful visual feedback tool to show a patient how loud their speech, or part of their speech is, or how long they hold a vowel, or how much stress they put on one syllable as compared to another. I had a patient who would trail off on all but the first syllable except when using this app. And as I note above, it really is very amusing to watch the faces change: my pts enjoyed it a lot, and some liked getting to pick which face to use.

Goals we can target in Tx with this app: Intelligibility, dysarthria, stress/intonation, volume, voice, phonation, to name a few. I've used it with patients with Parkinson's, MS, and others with mild dysarthria.

Some specific examples (not an exhaustive list):

1. After going over intelligibility strategies of putting stress on each syllable and exaggerating each sound, a pt can practice a word list, starting with some automatic ones like days of the week, with the goal of getting maximum reaction from the app's faces for each syllable (not trailing off). Accuracy can be measured by how many of the words got equally strong reactions from the app's faces for each syllable.

2. For a pt with flat affect or disordered prosody, write a goal to practice phrases and mark the stressed elements with prolongation and increased volume, as measured by the reaction from this app. The list of phrases could include ones where the word emphasized is the only difference (minimal pairs with respect to prosody); e.g., "I want SOUP for lunch" vs. "I want soup for LUNCH" (the first meaning I want soup and not something else, the second one meaning I want it for lunch, not for dinner). The emphasis on the word in CAPS should be apparent from the Bla | Bla | Bla app's reaction to volume and duration. Accuracy can be measured by how many reps it took to get the reaction on the correct words.

3. For a pt with goals to increase vocal intensity, can write a goal to elicit maximum response from the app's faces to a list of words or phrases. It is easy to see what maximum response is for each included face by making a soft sound followed by a loud one and comparing the response. Then the pt can work towards getting the maximum response, which would entail speaking louder. Accuracy can be measured by what % of the pt's speech got maximum response from the app's face.

4. Pacing goals, for pts who need to work on slowing their speech, could also be addressed I think. I haven't had a chance to try this with a pt, but I imagine you could write a goal for the pt to space out the face's responses to syllables (since vowels are the loudest parts of speech, those are the ones the app's faces respond to). If speech is too quick, the face doesn't "rest" as much between reactions, so spacing these out can be a visual indicator of the speed of one's speech.

5. Another thing I haven't tried but feel could be appropriate is using this app with fluency/stuttering pts. Visual indicator of volume and speed can help pace and shape prosody. Affecting these characteristics of speech has been shown to increase fluency (using metronomes and delayed feedback all provide auditory feedback on pacing and affect prosody, but visual feedback, in the form of pointing to a word being read for example, has also been shown to be effective). Therefore using visual feedback such as this app to increase awareness of prosody and pacing to shape fluency is within supported reason, so to speak.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

iPad app: Vismory (Visual Memory)

Vismory iPad app
Vismory - Visual Memory available in iTunes

What it is: Works on iPad, iphone or ipod touch. It is a memory game where you memorize a sequence of objects. It starts slow and while a quicker response will score more points, it gives the option to take your time. There are many versions of memory games for tablets and smartphones, but this one has a couple of advantages: First, in terms of number of objects to remember and time allowed to respond, quite a few of its levels can be used for players with more severe deficits (unlike many games that after a couple of easy levels amp up the difficulty or put you on a short timer, making the activities inappropriate for most patients with memory goals, going from fun to frustrating in mere seconds). In this game there are more challenging levels, but plenty of useful simple ones as well. Second, there is some mental manipulation required because it is the sequence of objects that must be recalled, not just the objects themselves. It is currently $1.99 (and worth it, I think) but every so often the price drops to free to bring in users and gather up ratings... that's when I managed to grab it, so keep a watch for if you don't want to spend any money.

How we can use it in Tx: This one's easy, just let your patient play this game, preferably on an iPad (not iPhone or iPod-touch as a larger screen will make all the difference). Practice different strategies to remember the sequence of objects in the game (you start with a very small number of objects; at first all of them are different colors so maybe repeat the colors in order... then there will be two objects that are different shapes but the same colors, so maybe repeat the object labels, and such).

Goals we can target in Tx with this app: short-term memory, working memory, sequencing.

Specific examples: Usually I end with specific examples for usage, but this app only has one function: playing the memory game, so there's not much variation in how it can be used. It's a memory and sequencing game. However, if you're targeting specific memory strategies (like repeating or visualizing) you can write goals for implementing those strategies while playing this game.

Brain training: This is also a great app in general for memory workout.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Android app: JABtalk (AAC, free)

JABtalk for Android devices
This program is currently free from JABstone, and is available from Android Market, Amazon App Store, & the Nook Store

What it is:  Originally developed as an AAC device for kids. It is fully customizable, and you can create categories and words with images and sounds for each. If your device supports a microphone you can record the words and categories right on it (Amazon's Kindle doesn't, but BN's nook tablet does and the more expensive Android tablets do as well). If you're using a device without microphone you can import sound files into your library and use them within this program (it'll take longer to prep a communication board that way, but it's doable). When it comes to images, you can take a photo if your device has a camera (Kindle and Nook do not), you can import images on any of the devices, and you can do an image internet search directly from within this program on any of the devices. There's talk of adding sentence building to following releases too.

How we can use it in Tx: I had fun building a default communication board with basic needs for my target population (call button, wheelchair, glasses, dentures, pain scale, yes/no, etc.). I carry this in my Nook as part of my default materials to always have with me. You can also make a language/word-building/problem solving task out of creating a new board with a patient that does not need an AAC device, but can use the practice thinking of common and safety-related objects.

Goals we can target in Tx with this app: Word finding, problem solving, AAC

Some specific examples:

1. Put together a menu for the three daily meals and write a goal for pt to use the device to order their meals (an AAC goal)

2. Have pt locate words within nested categories (e.g., apple would be inside foods & drinks/snacks/fruit) with certain % accuracy (a problem-solving goal)

3. Have a pt (who may not need AAC device) come up with as many suggestions for what to put in a given category (e.g., clothes or snacks) as they can (a word-naming goal)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

iPad app: My Story (free for a limited time)

My Story iPad app
My Story - Book Maker for Kids for iPad on the iTunes App Store

What it is: My Story is marketed for kids to make their own story books using photos, drawings, coloring, text, even recorded voice, and these story books can be saved and exported to iBooks, and then viewed/read like any digital book on your device.

How we can use it in Tx: The most obvious use is to create family albums and daily logs with pts that need external memory devices. While on the device it is not a resource that can be left with the pt to use on their own, it can be a productive memory aide used with the ST during sessions. Screenshots of the log can also be printed (take a screenshot by clicking the home and power buttons at the same time, and it'll save as a PNG file in your albums; then you can email it to yourself and print it on any printer) and those can be made into materials that ARE left with the pt to use independently.

Goals we can target in Tx with this app: Memory and orientation goals are the most obvious. Stories can also be created to target language, word-finding, problem solving and sequencing.

Some specific examples (not an exhaustive list):

1) Create a family album using photos of the pt's family if available (take picture of photos in pt's room, or draw stick figures for family members not yet available in photos) and name them all, listing relationship; have pt add a voice note to each member saying something unique about them (besides their name and relationship). Write a goal for pt to remember every family member's name, relationship, and some % of what s/he said about them in the voice note.

2) Create a book of a new exercise or routine learned in OT or PT sessions, with a page for each step. Move the pages around randomly and write a goal for the pt to sequence the steps correctly.

3) Create a continuous story and add a page each session; write a goal for the pt to recall 1-3 events from the current (or previous) day to add to the page.

What could you do with this app?