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.

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