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ShoulderTherapist

 

Shoulder surgeon Lennard Funk, orthopaedic trainee and app developer Ronnie Davies, and three specialist shoulder physiotherapists have developed a unique pair of mobile apps to help physiotherapists and shoulder surgeons rehabilitate shoulders. The rehabilitation programme comprises two apps — one for the patient and one for the physiotherapist. Physiotherapists install the ShoulderTherapist App and the patient installs the ShoulderPatient app. The therapist uses the app to create a structured rehabilitation exercise plan, which is transferred to the patient’s iPhone via Bluetooth. Using paired apps to organise a rehabilitation programme is a novel concept in the medical app ecosystem.

There are no pre-installed rehabilitation programmes to prevent patients from using the ShoulderTherapist app to attempt their own rehabilitation without supervision – the therapist must create a set by choosing exercises, hold times and repetitions.

The physiotherapist can create a programme for each individual patient or standard programmes Exercises are simply added to a programme by clicking a ‘+’ icon. The number of repetitions and hold-times are selected. Details of each exercise is in the Exercise section with colour codes for the level of intensities which are explained in the Info section. It is possible to create standard rehabilitation plans for a range of conditions although these are not preloaded eg following clavicle fracture or rotator cuff repair. Once these profiles have been created, they can be sent to patients mobile device via Bluetooth. It is straightforward and simple to create a profile for patients and easy to share via the ShoulderPatient app. In this way, it is easy to transfer a structured rehabilitation routine directly to the patient for their reference. The patient will also receive reminders to perform the exercises.

As it is quite quick to create a programme, a single therapist will be able to create a set of basic programmes for the entire department, and colleagues can modify for individual patients.

The exercises themselves are clear and well described using a combination of ‘moving’ still images and text. Video clips may demonstrate the exercises better, but the ‘moving’ still images are clear enough and work seamlessly without the requirement to ‘watch’ the video – the pictures are simply there.

The system is entirely paperless, there is no ability to print or send the programmes to any other patient education resources.

Despite this small limitation, this innovative and unique app pair may well have significant potential to improve patient education.

Pros:

·         Bluetooth distribution of patient-specific physiotherapy regimes

·         Wide range of exercises

·         Exercises explained using pictures and text

·         Referenced

·         Paperless

·         No pre-installed rehabilitation programmes

Cons:

·         No pre-installed rehabilitation programmes

·         Paperless

·         iPhone only

·         The app(s) have not been updated to fit the larger iPhone 5 screen

ShoulderTherapist and the associated ShoulderPatient app provide a useful novel tool to provide customisable patient-specific information to help maximise outcome through rehabilitation. This technology should help to improve patient understanding and compliance, and possibly improve overall outcome, while saving time for therapists.

Shoulder surgeons should try out these apps. Surgeons and therapists dealing with other anatomical areas may be intrigued and inspired by their potential.

 

iTunes link: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/shouldertherapist/id533934982 

 

Reviewed by Mr Tom Lewis