Compatibility: iPhone, iPod Touch, Android device (currently no iPad version)

Requires: iOS 3.0 or later; Android 2.0 and up

Purpose of the App Review:
1) Does Nerve Whiz offer me an easy way to learn muscle innervations and peripheral nerve anatomy?
2) Will this app help me describe anatomy to my patients?
3) Will this app finally help me learn the brachial plexus?

Introduction:

We all remember trying to learn innervations, dermatomes, myotomes, and sensory charts during anatomy – who would have known it would have been so clinically valuable?

Nerve Whiz is an app that was developed by the University Of Michigan Department Of Neurology in hopes to help students and professionals learn motor and sensory innervations.

Knowing which spinal roots innervate which muscle groups is a heavily asked about topic on rounds and is something that most clinicians should know about.

The app provides nerve charts and diagrams to help learn this difficult to learn subject.

User Interface:

Nerve whiz is a straightforward app-for the most part it’s diagrams and charts of information. It is broken down into four tabs: chart (chart of spinal nerves and their function), muscles (and their innervation), diagram (an interactive diagram of the brachial plexus and lumbosacral plexus) and sensory (diagrams that show sensory innervation).

The first tab, the chart, is a list of the spinal nerve roots and their function. For example, the top of the chart starts with the 3rd cervical spinal nerve root. The user can click on each spinal nerve root and learn more about the function.

On the chart, you may click on a muscle group and learn more about the muscles innervation. The information is accurate (although, spinal nerve roots can have a high degree of variance from person to person) and easy to understand.

However, this app doesn’t include some information that I, personally, find very important. For example, it says C3/C4 contributes innervation to the trapezius but it fails to mention the diaphragm or phrenic nerve anywhere. I hope the developers add more detail to the chart in later editions.

The second part is the “muscle” section. Here, the user can scroll through a very thorough list of muscles and see what nerves contribute in its innervation. It is basically a rehash of information from the chart, except there are a lot more options. I think it would have been a good idea to have a diagram of a human body where the user could click on a region of the diagram and drive down until they find the muscle they are looking for. All in all, this section is quite comprehensive.

The third section, the diagram, is an interactive diagram of the brachial and lumbosacral plexus. The user is given the option to choose from different cervical, lumbar or sacral nerve roots. When the user advances through the app after choosing a nerve root, either a diagram of the brachial plexus or the lumbosacral plexus will pop up. The nerve root chosen by the user will be highlighted in red so it is easy to follow where the nerve root travels and which nerves it gives rise to. I really wish I had this when I had to memorize the brachial plexus!

The fourth tab of the app, the sensory section, is also very useful. There are diagrams of the upper limbs and lower limbs. The user may click on any part of the diagrams and the app will advance to a page that highlights which spinal nerve roots provide sensory innervation to the selected area on the limbs.

Price:

  • Free

Likes:

  • Cool interactive Brachial Plexus Diagram
  • Great summaries of nerve root contributions to innervation of muscle groups
  • Cool diagrams showing sensory diagrams

Dislikes:

  • Other than brachial plexus diagram, no real use of multimedia features
  • The app only focuses on upper and lower limbs. There are gaps in knowledge that seem, to me, natural to include (like the phrenic or pudendal nerves)
  • I was hoping there would be an assessment function, possibly a multiple choice quiz using the diagrams and content from the app

Healthcare providers that would benefit from the app:

  • Neurologists
  • Physiatrists (PM&R physicians)
  • Medical Students
  • Physical/Occupational Therapists and Therapy Students
  • IM/FM physicians

Conclusion:

  • Nerve Whiz is a free app that provides the user diagrams and charts of information to help users learn motor and sensory innervation. The information provided in the app is all accurate and helpful and efficiently delivered, though I feel as though the developers need to include more content.
  • There is no quiz function on the app. I think this would help students learn the material and professionals test their knowledge.
  • Additionally, the app does not include any physical examination educational tools or videos. Adding a section for the neurologic physical exam would enhance the app.
  • The brachial plexus and lumbar plexus interactive diagrams are very helpful. In fact, I wish I had access to this when I had to learn the brachial plexus during anatomy!
  • I hope the developers will add new features, for example, a quiz function with multiple choice questions testing the user’s knowledge of innervation and possibly a diagram where the user may click on parts of the body to learn more about muscle innervation.

iMedicalApps recommended?

  • Yes

Rating:
Overall: 4/5 Stars
User Interface: 4/5 stars. The transitions are clean and information is reliable.
Multimedia Coverage: 4/5. The brachial plexus and lumbosacral plexus diagram is very useful. The sensory diagram was also a cool function.
Price: 5/5 Stars.  This app is currently free.
Real World Applicability: 3/5 Stars. Students could certainly use this app often to learn about nerve root innervations, which is pretty high yield for the basic sciences curriculum. For working professionals, it would be a refresher but it does not have enough information for it to be used as a reference tool on a regular basis.

iTunes Link