Patient Centric App Review Series
App Reviewed: Physioadvisor Exercises
Last Updated: February 24, 2012
Compatibility: iPhone, iPad, Android
Requires: iPhone, iPad, OS 4.3 or greater OR Android 2.1 and up
Reviewed on: iPhone
Purpose of the App Review:
- Can I trust that Physioadvisor will provide my patients safe physical therapy home exercises?
- How does Physioadvisor help with patient compliance of at-home physical therapy?
- Will my patient find the app easy to navigate?
Physical therapy is such an important part of a patient’s healing process, especially when they consistently do their home exercises.
However, like with everything else in healthcare, the resources are incredibly limited with new therapy caps being instituted by third party payers and physical therapists being spread thin with their ever-growing patient load. Many patients will only go to a few sessions of PT and be expected to repeat the exercises learned in PT.
Physioadvisor promises to deliver safe, reliable, home physical therapy instructions with pictures, reminders, and detailed explanations of home exercises.
Physioadvisor has a pretty simple user interface. The opening page gives the user a list of exercises to choose from. Though the categories are broad and can be a little ambiguous (for example, doesn’t pilates include balance and flexibility?), it’s certainly not rocket science figuring out which exercises are in which section.
As you advance through the app, each exercise section has an option to look at all of the exercises together or each exercise individually.
The user can then choose from various exercises. When an exercise is chosen, a detailed description of the exercise is given along with a picture. Most of the time, the pictures and text will explain how to perform the exercise pretty well; however, there were several exercises I tried from this app that I was not performing properly until I YouTubed them.
The videos allowed me to see what muscle groups to isolate, how to position myself for the exercise, etc. For some exercises, the pictures on the app did not make it obvious and may lead to patients doing the exercises incorrectly. Adding videos to explain the more complicated exercises would have been of great use.
The “Reminder” feature of this app is pretty useful. One of the biggest factors in patient compliance for PT is remembering to do their exercises. The app will push a notification through to remind the user to do their exercises.
The “My Program” feature is probably the highlight of the app. The user can add exercises in this section to bookmark their exercises. There is value in the feature because a patient can be instructed to download this app before their PT session and the therapist can choose exercises and create a program for their patients to follow at home.
So for example, let’s say I have a patient with degenerative disc disease causing a lower limb radicuolopathy complicated with pain. The first line therapy is PT but maybe his insurance company allows only a few visits for this medical indications or doesn’t cover PT at all. After an evaluation, my PT colleague would be able to design a home program that may look a little like this:
- Easy to use with clean user interface
- My program tab lets you design exercises for patients
- Push through notifications that remind the user to do their exercises
- Pictures make following the exercises pretty easy
- Multimedia use: videos of exercises that are more difficult (like the advanced pilates exercises) would help
- Sometimes the description of the exercises are very lengthy and use heavy medical language. For example, the descriptions for the hand and forearm exercises can be difficult for a patient to understand. The instructions are long and use vocabulary like supination, internal rotation and ulnar deviation, all of which need to be done at the same time for certain exercises.
Healthcare providers that would benefit from the app:
- Physical Therapists
- Occupational Therapists
- Physiatrists (Physical Med and Rehab)
- Orthopedic surgeons
- Primary Care Physicians
Patients that would benefit from the app:
- Patients who only go to a few sessions of PT who need reinforcement at home
- Patients who cannot get PT covered through insurance who want to start home exercises
- Patients who would like to preview PT exercises before a scheduled session
Physioadvisor is not a substitute for physical therapy, but for patients who want an interactive at-home exercise guide or for providers who just want to learn more about PT home exercises, it’s a fantastic app. With the reminder and bookmarking features, the app is well worth $3 for patients who are truly motivated to regain physical function.
Though the use of videos or hyperlinks to videos would have been a great addition for more complicated exercises, most of the instructions are understandable. I know some therapists at large rehab hospitals will ask their patients to download this app and I think more therapists should promote it to increase patient compliance in doing these exercises.
Overall: 4.1/5 Stars
User Interface: 4/5 stars. Easy to understand and navigate. The “Reminder” and “My Program” tabs are helpful. The categorization of the exercises tabs needs to be revamped to make navigation more intuitive.
Multimedia Coverage: 3.5/5. Transitions are clean and pictures are helpful but I would to see the use of videos.
Price: 4/5 Stars. This app is costs $2.99 but is cheaper than any alternative (additional physical therapy sessions). But an ad supported free version would be very popular.
Real World Applicability: 5/5 Stars. Patients who need to do their physical therapy on a daily basis will use this often.