Occupational therapists are using technology to help clients reach their goals and to remain efficient practitioners. I’ve gathered a list of a few very useful apps that OTs can use both during sessions and in-between to promote their productivity, grade tasks more or less challenging for a client, and reduce the burden of lugging around bulky therapy equipment.
My First Yoga (free)
This app displays easy-to-follow pictures of yoga poses and is geared toward children. Guided audio leads kids through each pose using playful, interactive metaphors to grab their attention, while working on skills like attention to visual and auditory stimuli, motor planning, and self-regulation along with a copious amount of other skills. After researching a ton of apps, this was the first one I downloaded and began using with children – they love it as much as I do!
Developed by an occupational therapist, HowToDoIt allows therapists and other health professionals to create custom-made instruction sheets for client’s to carry out a home program, strategies, and other recommendations outside of therapy time. You create the plan and specify the best time(s) of day it should be practiced.
You can even upload pictures to attach to each step to enhance the activity. Some users prefer to take pictures of the client themselves actually doing the activity so it mimics real-life. Helpful hint: children are especially motivated when they see themselves in a photo doing the task! It can also be helpful for those calmed by familiar images/objects, including those with cognitive impairments such as confusion or memory loss.
This app offers different mazes and you can choose the level each time – perfect for grading the activity easier or harder for different clients. iMazing can be used with adults or pediatric clients and can address areas of visual-perceptual and visual-motor skills, hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and a host of cognitive skills for sequence and attention. Bonus: the client can use their finger to draw the maze or a stylus, which helps promote proper grasp of writing tools.
This app for children and adults provides various fine motor exercises in an engaging format. Exercises range from pinching and tapping practice for finger-isolation to writing practice to address more complex visual-motor integration skills. You can track data for each client, allowing you to measure their progress, and a progress report can be emailed directly from the app.
Stretch Break for Kids
Don’t let the title mislead you – this app has stretch breaks usable by people of all ages! Each stretch shows how to do the stretch along with a descriptive text (i.e., “place hands on knees, then round shoulders forward and bring chin to chest”).
LookTel Money Reader ($9.99)
Designed for people with visual impairments, this allows your phone or tablet’s camera to read currency and then speaks the value out loud, making counting and exchanging cash much easier.
This app uses the device’s camera to first sense your pulse (you hold your finger up to it when requested) and it then creates a musical beat based on your heartbeat, which is a functional activity many clients can appreciate! It’s a great awareness tool, as you’re able to look at different beats over time to determine when your pulse was faster and when it was slower which can help with regulation and stress-management.
These are just a few applications occupational therapists can use with clients to work on different goal areas. What is your new favorite app to use as an OT? Share in the comments below!