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?