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).

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