Posts Tagged smartphone

[Abstract] A Systematic Review of Mobile Health Applications in Rehabilitation

Abstract

Objective

To conduct systematic review to better define how medical mobile applications (apps) have been utilized in environments relevant to Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Data Sources

PUBMED, IEEE, ACM Digital Library, SCOPUS, INSPEC, and EMBASE

Study Selection

A 10-year date limit was utilized, spanning publication dates from June 1, 2006 to June 30, 2016. Terms related to Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation as well as mobile apps were used in ten individual search strategies.

Data Extraction

Two investigators screened abstracts and applied inclusion and exclusion criteria. Full-length articles were retrieved. Duplicate articles were removed. If a study met all criteria, the manuscript was reviewed in full.

Data Synthesis

Specific variables of interest were extracted and added to summary tables. Summary tables were used to categorize studies according themes, and a list of app features was generated.

Conclusions

The search yielded abstracts from 8,116 studies, and 102 studies were included in the systematic review. Approximately one-third of the studies evaluated apps as interventions while the remaining two-third of the studies assessed functioning of the app or participant interaction with the app. Some apps may have positive benefits when used to deliver exercise or gait training interventions, as self-management systems, or as measurement tools.

 

via A Systematic Review of Mobile Health Applications in Rehabilitation – Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

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[Abstract] Speed-Interactive Treadmill Training Using Smartphone-Based Motion Tracking Technology Improves Gait in Stroke Patients

Abstract

This study was conducted to investigate the effects of speed-interactive treadmill training (SITT) using smartphone-based motion tracking technology on gait in stroke patients. Thirty-four chronic stroke patients were randomly divided into a SITT group (n = 18) and a standard treadmill training (control) group (n = 16). The SITT group underwent smartphone-based SSIT while the control group underwent standard treadmill training. Both groups performed the training for 35 min per session, 3 times per week, for 6 weeks. Both groups used nonmotorized treadmills so that patients could control the speed. Evaluation was conducted during the week before and after the training. The OptoGait system measured gait spatiotemporal parameters. Both groups showed significant improvement in the temporal and spatial gait parameters (p < .05). In the SITT group, compared to the control group, the two-way analysis of variance with repeated measures showed an improvement in the temporal and spatial gait parameters after the intervention period (p < .05). This study confirmed that SITT improved the gait function of stroke patients. Based on this result, the authors propose that SITT, by improving gait, can be used as an effective training method to improve patients’ functional activities in the clinic.

 

via Speed-Interactive Treadmill Training Using Smartphone-Based Motion Tracking Technology Improves Gait in Stroke Patients. – PubMed – NCBI

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[Abstract] Self-measured wrist range of motion by wrist-injured and wrist-healthy study participants using a built-in iPhone feature as compared with a universal goniometer

Highlights

  • Wrist ROM measured with a smartphone agrees strongly with ROM measured by a goniometer.
  • Patients are able to reliably self-measure wrist ROM using a smartphone.
  • The iPhone 5 can accurately measure ROM in wrist-injured population wrist- healthy populations.
  • This in-built feature is free and pre-installed on iPhones and does not require English literacy.

Abstract

Study Design

Cross-sectional cohort.

Introduction

Smartphone gyroscope and goniometer applications have been shown to be a reliable way to measure wrist ROM when used by researchers or trained staff. If wrist-injured patients could reliably measure their own ROM, rehabilitation efforts could be more effectively tailored.

Purpose of the Study

To assess agreement of self-measured ROM by wrist-injured and wrist-healthy study participants using a built-in iPhone 5 level feature as compared to researcher-measured ROM using a universal goniometer (UG).

Methods

Thirty wrist-healthy and 30 wrist-injured subjects self-measured wrist flexion, extension, supination, and pronation ROM using the built-in preinstalled digital level feature on an iPhone 5. Simultaneously a researcher measured ROM with a UG.

Results

Average absolute deviation between the self-measured iPhone 5 level feature and researcher-measured UG ROM was less than 2° for all 4 movements individually and combined was found to be 1.6° for both populations. Intraclass correlation coefficient showed high correlation with values over 0.94 and Bland-Altman plots showed very strong agreement. There was no statistical difference in the ability of wrist-injured and healthy patients to self-measure wrist ROM.

Discussion

Both populations showed very high agreement between their self-measured ROM using the built-in level feature on an iPhone 5 and the researcher-measured ROM using the UG. Both populations were able to use the iPhone self-measurement equally well and the injury status of the subject did not affect the agreement results.

Conclusion

Wrist-healthy and wrist-injured subjects were able to reliably and independently measure ROM using a smartphone level feature.

 

via Self-measured wrist range of motion by wrist-injured and wrist-healthy study participants using a built-in iPhone feature as compared with a universal goniometer – Journal of Hand Therapy

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[WEB SITE] 17 Apps That Can Make Life Easier With Brain Fog and Chronic Illness

If you struggle with brain fog due to chronic illness or medication, it can be difficult to keep track of all your doctor appointments, medications and symptoms – not to mention all your other responsibilities, such as work, chores or taking care of your family. Staying organized and remembering everything you put on your mental to-do list can be a challenge for anyone, but with brain fog and a chronic illness thrown into the mix, it becomes especially important to find the methods that most help you stay on top of things.

For many with chronic illness, smartphones can be a lifesaver. Many of us carry our phones everywhere we go anyway, so utilizing them as a tool to keep track of our lives and our illnesses can be extremely helpful. Most smartphones nowadays come with apps already programmed in, such as a notepad, a calendar or a voice memo recorder, which are simple, easy to use and great for jotting down important notes or dates.

However, if you struggle with brain fog and are looking for a different way to organize your notes, lists, calendar and medical information, then there are a number of other apps you may find to be extremely useful.

To help you manage your personal life, professional life, and physical and mental health, we asked our Mighty community to share which apps help them navigate their day-to-day lives despite the effects of brain fog. Here are their recommendations.

Just so you know, we’ve selected these links to make shopping easier for you. We do not receive any funds from purchases or downloads you make.

1. Habitica

habitica screenshot

Habitica is a video game that allows you to “gamify” your life by turning your daily activities and to-do lists into monsters to conquer. It can help motivate you to change your habits by giving you in-game incentives every time you complete a task. You can play on your computer or download the app for either iOS and Android.

Jess Van Meter told The Mighty, “It’s amazing. It helps me pretend my life is a video game and doing self-care, building habits and performing daily tasks actually does help me ‘level up.’ It has a built in community and reward system too.”

Sara Wilson added, “I can put as many tasks on it as I want, little or large, and it’s also a game, so I get coins whenever I complete a task! I can set up IRL [in real life] rewards for myself for earning so many coins and that helps keep me motivated. I check it several times a day and one last time before bed. I put everything on there from medications to everyday tasks to important, one-time events.”

Download Habitica for free from Apple or Google Play.

2. Medisafe

medisafe

Medisafe helps you keep track of which medications you need to take and when. Each day is divided into four quadrants – morning, afternoon, evening, night – with visual representations of which pills you should be taking at which time. The app will send you reminders when it’s time to take your pills, and it also provides you with information about each medication. Physicians and pharmacists are also able to connect with patients and communicate through Medisafe.

“It has the details of all my meds and alerts me to what I need to take and when. I always forget to take anything without the app reminders! Now I only have to worry about brain fog making me forget if I actually did take the meds it told me to before I pressed the ‘take all’ button,” Amie Addison wrote.

“It reminds me to take my meds and business calendar reminds me of all my day to day stuff,” Marnie Dueck told us.

Download Medisafe for free from Apple or Google Play.

3. Daylio

daylio screenshots

Daylio is a mobile diary that lets you easily track how you’re feeling and what you’re doing. Over time, the app can help you discover patterns in your moods, behavior and activities so you can make changes to your daily routine that will help you to feel your best.

Liberty White wrote, “Great for symptom tracking and customizing. It beeps at the end of the day and I tell it how my day went. It tracks trends in my activities (or lack of activities) and helps me keep track of when I’m having a bad time.”

Download Daylio for free from Apple or Google Play.

4. Flaredown

flaredown app

Flaredown was made just for people with chronic illness as a way to track symptoms, record treatments and reactions, track triggers and connect with others who have similar conditions. There are also places where you can easily note other important parts of your day, such as what you ate, what the weather was like, and any activities or events that took place.

“By far my favorite app to track my various symptoms!” Bay Howe said. “Makes it much easier to discuss symptoms and illnesses when you can remember what they are and when they happen.”

Download Flaredown for free from Apple or Google Play.

5. Evernote

evernote app

Evernote is a note-taking app that helps you stay organized in your personal and/or professional life. You can add notes in a variety of forms, including text, sketches, photos, audio, video, PDF and web clippings, and have everything saved in one place.

Morgan Storm Ray said, “I use Evernote. I also have memory loss so it helps with that too. It is a simple note-taking app. But it has a bunch of different ways to take notes. By voice, picture, text, etc.”

Jess N. Law added, “Evernote – for notes on anything and everything I can’t remember. I also use it to record meetings because multitasking has gotten too difficult.”

Download Evernote Basic for free from Apple or Google Play.

6. CareZone

carezone app

CareZone offers patients a simple way to keep track of all their medical information. Several of its features include a journal for documenting symptoms, to-do lists, contacts (doctors, pharmacies, insurance providers, etc.), medication information (names, dosages, reminders for when it’s time to refill, etc.) and a calendar for keeping track of appointments and other important dates. Any information you input remains private and secure.

Nancy Lea Martine Koontz told us, “I use CareZone which includes all kinds of daily trackers and makes sharing information with doctors quite easy.“

Download CareZone for free from Apple or Google Play.

7. Asana

asana

For those who work with a company or business, Asana is an app that can help you and your team stay organized, manage projects and track your progress. This app allows you to create project task lists and personal to-do lists, track when work is due with a calendar and converse with coworkers about various tasks or projects.

“[I use] Asana – a project management app. I can list phone calls, emails, work, everything I need to do today or in the future. It’s free and has saved my business,” Jess N. Law wrote.

Download Asana for free from Apple or Google Play.

8. myHomework

myhomework app

The myHomework app is a virtual planner for students. You can track when assignments, essays or projects are due, track your class schedule and receive due date or test reminders.

“I’m a full-time student,” said Eri Rhodes. “The myHomework app is critical to me not forgetting due dates.”

Download myHomework Basic for free from AppleGoogle PlayMicrosoft or Amazon.

9. Microsoft OneNote

microsoft onenote

Microsoft OneNote is a place you can jot down any important notes, information or thoughts that cross your mind – in whichever way works best for you. You can type, write, draw, make to-do lists or clip things from the web, and OneNote keeps everything organized and easy to find.

“I have OneNote on my phone. It’s basically an electronic notebook and you can make as many [notes] as you want, but I find it helpful because if I want to remember something for later, I can just open it and type it out then go back to look at it later when I need the information. Also have it on my computer and tablet all connected so I always have access to it,” said Chelsea Smith.

Download Microsoft OneNote from MicrosoftApple or Google Play.

10. MyTherapy

mytherapy app

MyTherapy gives you reminders when it’s time to take your medication, take measurements or do exercises, and it also serves as a journal where you can track your symptoms and overall health.

Anna A. Legault told us, “MyTherapy helps me remember medications, measurements and log symptoms.”

Download MyTherapy for free from Apple or Google Play.

11. TaoMix 2

taomix 2 app

Living with chronic illness and brain fog can be stressful, and while it’s important to keep track of your physical health, caring for your mental health is necessary, too. TaoMix 2 provides you with soundscapes you can mix and match to help you relax or meditate. Whether you’re soothed by the sounds of waves crashing on the beach or the quiet chatter of people in a café, this app can help take your mind off the stresses of chronic illness.

All kinds of reminders and calendar apps are a must,” said Irma-Helen Lorentzon. “But something that really helps me is TaoMix – it has great nature sounds and I use it to help my brain focus and/or relax.”

Download TaoMix 2 for free from Apple or Google Play.

12. Google Calendar

google calendar app

Google Calendar can help you keep track of important dates or events. You can view the calendar by day, week or month, color code events and, if you use Gmail, import dates from there. You can also schedule reminders to give you a heads up about upcoming events.

Tiffany Anne told us, “I use Google Calendar to remind myself if I need to bring something somewhere, follow up on something or anything that requires reminders since I pay attention to those.”

Heather Jo Skidmore said, “Google Calendar. One for work, one for my MA program, one for my three kids’ activities. Color coded, and shared with my husband.”

Download Google Calendar app for free from Apple or Google Play.

13. ColorNote

colornote app

This Android app lets you make color-coded notes and checklists to help you stay organized. You can also set reminders for each note to make sure you get each task done on time.

Christine Cousins wrote, “I love ColorNote. I can make checklists for groceries or things I need to get done or write myself notes about things I need to discuss with my doctors so I’m prepared for my appointment. The app automatically backs everything up, so when my phone took a swim and I downloaded ColorNote on a new device, all of my stuff was there!”

Download ColorNote for free from Google Play or Amazon.

14. Stop, Breathe & Think

stop, breathe & think app

This meditation app encourages you to stop what you’re doing and check in with how you’re feeling, practice some mindful breathing and think deeply to broaden your perspectives and increase your level of relaxation.

“SBT is an amazing app that allows you to rate how you’re feeling physically and mentally and specify certain emotions. It then tabulates and suggests meditation/mindfulness exercises in order to attend to whatever issues you’re experiencing. Once finished with an exercise, you can again rate how you’re feeling. You can earn stickers as you accomplish certain exercises, and it keeps track of your emotional and physical check-ins. Pretty cool,” Meghan Leigh explained.

Download Stop, Breathe & Think for free from Apple or Google Play or use on your web browser.

15. ICE Contact

ice app

If you have a medical condition and ever find yourself in an emergency situation, an ICE (In Case of Emergency) app may be of use. You can store all your personal and medical information here for either yourself or others to access in an emergency. Having this information handy can also be useful if you struggle with brain fog.

Stephanie Bowman told us, “I use an ICE app. It stores a list of all my illnesses, medication, people to contact and my allergies. I’m never stuck when put on the spot to think of important information.”

Download ICE for free from Apple.

16. Cozi

cozi app

Cozi is an organization app specifically designed for families. You can keep all of your family’s activities and appointments in one place, and create checklists (grocery lists, chore lists, to-do lists, etc.) to share with other family members.

Crystal Dewey said, “It’s a calendar app on steroids! It connects with my family members, sends reminders, we can all add to-do and grocery lists… It’s my electronic brain!”

Download Cozi for free from AppleGoogle Play or Microsoft.

17. Waze

waze app

Waze is a navigation app that lets you know what traffic conditions are like in real time and which route you should take. Waze can also give you reminders when it’s time to leave based on both the time you need to arrive and current traffic. After you arrive at your destination, park your car and close Waze, it will automatically drop a pin to remind you later on exactly where you parked.

Jess N. Law recommends integrating Waze with Google Calendar. “Reminds me of everything I have planned and when to leave. Lifesaver some days.”

Download Waze for free from Apple or Google Play.

 

via 17 Apps That Can Make Life Easier With Brain Fog and Chronic Illness | The Mighty

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[WEB SITE] This incredible smart band can help detect seizures when worn by people with epilepsy

Syndicate Post image

A seizure-detecting smart band could help people with epilepsy notify their caregivers in the event of an emergency.

Embrace, a smart band created by Empatica, uses advanced machine learning (AI) to monitor seizures, collecting physiological data from users to try to detect unusual events such as convulsive seizures.

The Embrace band is paired to a smartphone or iPod via Bluetooth connection and works in tandem with the Alert app, which sends SMS and phone call alerts to selected caregivers when a seizure is detected.

Embrace will send a command to the Alert app when it detects a seizure (Empatica)

Empatica CEO Matteo Lai said: “Embrace is a Medical Grade device in Europe and the only FDA-cleared seizure monitoring smart watch, which uses AI to monitor for the most dangerous kinds of seizures, known as ‘grand mal’ or ‘generalized tonic-clonic’ seizures, and send an alert to summon caregivers’ help.

“Embrace stands apart from any seizure detection system in that it measures multiple indicators of a seizure.

“Its unique property is its use of Electrodermal Activity, a signal used by stress researchers to quantify physiological changes related to sympathetic nervous system activity, also known as the ‘fight or flight’ response.”

When Embrace detects a seizure, it will send a command to the Alert app, which then sends an alert to the designated caregiver.

“Users can add caregivers who are notified in real time with a phone call and an SMS containing the wearer’s GPS location.

Lai said: “There is also another product that works with Embrace, a diary app called Mate, where the caregiver can monitor sleep and physical activity for patients wearing Embrace.

“The Mate app displays the seizures automatically detected by the Embrace and patients can also insert other, non-convulsive seizures that aren’t automatically detected.”

Embrace costs £177 (Empatica)

Morgan, a user of Embrace, said: “I purchased the Embrace mostly because my seizures have all happened during my sleep.

“I also purchased it so that I could regain a lot of the confidence that I lost once I was diagnosed with epilepsy.

“On November 6th 2016, I had a seizure(s) that lasted over 40 minutes. The Embrace detected the seizures and my emergency contacts were notified… I believe the Embrace saved my life. It helps give peace of mind to me, as well as my friends and family.

“Having the Embrace has also helped me regain the confidence to start being active again.”

Embrace costs 249 US dollars (£177), and is available from the Empatica website.

 

via This incredible smart band can help detect seizures when worn by people with epilepsy – Evening Express

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[Abstract] Mobile Game-based Virtual Reality Program for Upper Extremity Stroke Rehabilitation

Abstract

Stroke rehabilitation requires repetitive, intensive, goal-oriented therapy. Virtual reality (VR) has the potential to satisfy these requirements. Game-based therapy can promote patients’ engagement in rehabilitation therapy as a more interesting and a motivating tool. Mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet PCs can provide personalized home-based therapy with interactive communication between patients and clinicians. In this study, a mobile VR upper extremity rehabilitation program using game applications was developed. The findings from the study show that the mobile game-based VR program effectively promotes upper extremity recovery in patients with stroke. In addition, patients completed two weeks of treatment using the program without adverse effects and were generally satisfied with the program. This mobile game-based VR upper extremity rehabilitation program can substitute for some parts of the conventional therapy that are delivered one-on-one by an occupational therapist. This time-efficient, easy to implement, and clinically effective program would be a good candidate tool for tele-rehabilitation for upper extremity recovery in patients with stroke. Patients and therapists can collaborate remotely through these e-health rehabilitation programs while reducing economic and social costs.

 

via Mobile Game-based Virtual Reality Program for Upper Extremity Stroke Rehabilitation. – PubMed – NCBI

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[Proceeding] Mobile, Exercise-agnostic, Sensor-based Serious Games for Physical Rehabilitation at Home – Full Text PDF

Serious games can improve the physical rehabilitation of patients with different conditions. By monitoring exercises and offering feedback, serious games promote the correct execution of exercises outside the clinic. Nevertheless, existing serious games are limited to specific exercises, which reduces their practical impact. This paper describes the design of three exercise-agnostic games, that can be used for a multitude of rehabilitation scenarios. The developed games are displayed on a smartphone and are controlled by a wearable device, containing inertial and electromyography sensors. Results from a preliminary evaluation with 10 users are discussed, together with plans for future work.

Full Text PDF

via Mobile, Exercise-agnostic, Sensor-based Serious Games for Physical Rehabilitation at Home

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[Abstract] A novel smartphone camera-LED Communication for clinical signal transmission in mHealth-rehabilitation system – IEEE Conference Publication

Abstract:

In this paper, an implementation of mobile-Visible Light Communication (mVLC) technology for clinical data transmission in home-based mobile-health (mHealth) rehabilitation system is introduced. Mobile remote rehabilitation program is the solutions for improving the quality of care of the clinicians to the patients with chronic condition and disabilities. Typically, the program inquires routine exercise which obligate patients to wear wearable electronic sensors for hours in a specific range of time. Thus it motivate us to develop a novel harmless biomedical communicating system since most of the device’s protocol was based on RF communication technology which risky for a human body in term of long term usage due to RF exposure and electromagnetic interference (EMI). The proposed system are designed to utilize a visible light as a medium for hazardless-communication between wearable sensors and a mobile interface device (smartphone). Multiple clinical data such as photoplethysmogram (PPG), electrocardiogram (ECG), and respiration signal are transmitted through LED and received by a smartphone camera. Furthermore, a smartphone also used for local interface and data analyzer henceforth sent the data to the cloud for further clinician’s supervision.

I. Introduction

Home-based rehabilitation are focused to improve the care quality of the clinicians to the patients. It helps the medical experts and clinicians to monitor their patients without direct interaction to the patients. For patients, it helps them to keep the intense care of their clinical states while being at home and also helps some patients with inability to leave their home to easily interact with their doctor for treatment. Basically each individual patients and diseases have different rehabilitation treatment, such as smart exercise bike for Parkinson’s disease [1], cycling exercise for chronic disease [2], seated exercises for older adults [3], and movement disorders patients [4], also hand exercise for postStroke patients [5]. Most of the mentioned rehabilitation program are required a regular time of exercise treatment, for example based on American Heart Association / American Stroke Association (AHA/ASA) guideline [6], for inpatient rehabilitation facilities (IRFs) at least 3 hours/day with 5 days/week is required. Moreover other researcher [7], mentioned the same treatment timeline requirement for their proposed home stroke rehabilitation and monitoring system.

Source: A novel smartphone camera-LED Communication for clinical signal transmission in mHealth-rehabilitation system – IEEE Conference Publication

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[WEB SITE] New Anatomy VR App Lets You Look Inside Your Own Body

IN BRIEF

Curiscope, a startup, aims to blend VR and AR. Their Virtuali-Tee allows users to take a peek inside their own chest cavities.

TAKE A LOOK AT YOURSELF

Most people feel confident that they know a fair amount about their own body, in terms of general health and what they look like from the outside. However, most of us haven’t taken a look inside—literally speaking. Ed Barton and his UK-based startup Curiscope is hoping to change that with a unique blend of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). Using an anatomy VR app and the company’s Virtuali-Tee, a t-shirt, they are allowing people to see inside of their own chest cavities.

Barton explained to Wired: “We use a mix of VR and AR to see inside the anatomy…With positionally tracked AR, you can position VR experiences physically within your environment.”

Barton and Curiscope co-founder Ben Kidd have so far raised almost $1 million in seed funding from LocalGlobe, and they’ve already sold almost 3,000 of the Virtuali-Tees.

HIGH TECH T-SHIRT

Barton told Wired that, using positional tracking, “we have a blurring of physical and digital items, and an experience more tightly connected to reality.” He continued, “With the Virtuali-Tee, AR is your interface and VR is used to transport you somewhere else. The technologies should be merging.”

This technology works using a highly-stylized QR code printed onto the front of the t-shirt. When you scan the code with the corresponding app, you can explore throughout the chest cavity, including the heart and lungs.

AR technology hit the mainstream with the release of Pokémon Go, but its applications have shown that it can reach far beyond games. From smartphone usage to vehicle blueprint design, AR is quickly developing. The combination of both AR and VR could not only make the Virtuali-Tee device fully immersive, but also lead to a whole host of other technologies that combine AR and VR.

This t-shirt, specifically, could be a fantastic tool for the curious. It can be used for educational purposes, allowing anatomy and biology to be a fun experience that students can really wrap their minds around. Even outside of a formal educational setting, this device could allow us to better connect with our own biology. Virtuali-Tee could help people to better understand their own inner workings, and how the things we do every day—from what we eat to how we exercise—might affect our health.

Source: New Anatomy VR App Lets You Look Inside Your Own Body

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[WEB SITE] Smartphone apps can be memory aids for people with brain injuries, and everyone else

 

Smartphone apps allow us to outsource remembering appointments or upcoming tasks. It’s a common worry that using technology in this way makes our brain’s memory capacity worse, but the reality is not that simple.

In fact, these platforms can be useful, not only for people with memory impairments, but also the general population.

Over two studies, we set out to explore the potential of smartphones as memory aids by investigating how people with traumatic brain injuries (TBI) or with stroke use them.

We surveyed 29 people with TBI and 33 non-injured people for our TBI study. For the stroke study, we surveyed 29 participants with stroke and 29 with no history of neurological conditions.

We found that memory apps like calendars can be helpful for people with brain injuries. And while it was a small sample, we also found that for participants without brain injury, there was no relationship between memory app use and memory ability.

This finding requires further analysis, but it is not consistent with the idea that memory aids make our brains lazy. Rather, such apps can free our minds to focus on other things, without using up mental resources worrying about what needs to be remembered.

How does brain injury affect memory?

Memory difficulties are common after acquired brain injuries such as a stroke. Everyday problems include forgetting appointments, names and details, losing track of conversations and misplacing personal items.

Research on rehabilitation of memory after brain injury supports the use of compensatory strategies. These include internal or mental strategies such as mentally rehearsing a speech and external strategies, such as calendars, lists, notes, alarms and photos.

Traditionally, external memory aids have been in paper-based formats such as diaries and notes, which are bulky and easily lost. Research shows early technological aids such as pagers and Personal Digital Assistants were helpful in approving improving memory function, but unfamiliar and difficult to learn to use for many people with brain injury.

Smartphones have the potential to address the limitations of earlier devices. They are familiar to most people, at least in the developed world, and are highly portable.

Are smartphones useful memory aids?

In both studies, we found that the majority of people both with and without brain injury used smartphones for three main reasons: for communication, as a memory aid and for internet access.

When asked about the biggest benefit of using a smartphone, users with TBI and stroke most often cited its helpfulness as a memory aid. This contrasted with those with no history of brain injury, who instead listed portability, convenience and access to the internet as the main benefits.

The memory apps used most often by participants with TBI and stroke were calendars, alarms, contacts lists, reminder text messages, notes, cameras, and to-do lists. These apps help the user remember appointments, tasks, details and locations without relying on their internal memory capacity.

A cerebral infarction (ischemic stroke) at the brain’s left hemisphere . Puwadol Jaturawutthichai/Shutterstock

For people with TBI and those without any neurological conditions, there was no relationship between use of memory apps and performance on objective memory tests requiring recall of a list of words. This suggests that relying on memory aids did not influence intrinsic memory ability.

This result was important in counteracting the fear expressed by some TBI and stroke survivors that using a memory aid may make their memory abilities worse, just like using a wheelchair may make leg muscles weaker.

Our results indicate that this idea does not apply to memory among our sample group – rather, using memory aids is helpful for people who struggle to remember things by supporting their injured brains without causing any further damage.

For stroke survivors, more frequent use of memory apps also seems to be associated with higher productivity, as measured by their engagement in work, study and volunteer activities. This may mean that using smartphone memory apps enabled them to be more productive by supporting them to remember and organise tasks.

What are the barriers to using memory apps?

In both studies, we found that younger participants were more likely to use smartphones, suggesting that older adults may require more support in using them.

TBI and stroke survivors were also more likely to have difficulty learning to use their smartphone, and preferred being directly shown how to use it rather than learning by trial and error. Stroke survivors with motor (physical) symptoms used memory apps less frequently.

To further increase access to the benefits of smartphone memory apps, we now need to work out how to help users with brain injuries who may find them difficult to learn.

Our future research will aim to work out the most effective methods for teaching smartphone memory apps to people with memory impairment.

Source: Smartphone apps can be memory aids for people with brain injuries, and everyone else

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