Like any other technique, the MSK examination requires plenty of practice to become good at it. For most physicians the focus is on heart, lungs, abdomen, nervous system, etc. and the MSK examination is much lower down the list. The UCSF MSK tutor aims to fill the gap by providing short video tutorials on various aspects of the MSK exam.

Clinical Scenario

A 25 year old male presents with knee pain and swelling after he twisted his knee going down the stairs.

User Interface

Upon opening, the app shows the UCSF title screen for a few seconds and then moves to the home screen.



The app can only be viewed in portrait mode and the home screen consists of various tiles and a toolbar along the left border. The largest title, in the middle, is a welcome screen and tapping here takes you to the UCSF website’s homepage.


You can also scroll this center tile by swiping right-to-left and it displays information about UCSF and another app they have developed, the UCSF NeuroExam Tutor.

In the bottom-right of the home screen are tiles for accessing fall and joint screening tutorials. Choosing the fall screening tutorial brings up a series of videos on how to screen patients for falls.


Choosing any of the tests listed under the ‘general’ heading will show subsequent videos. You also have an option to email yourself, or anyone else, a checklist of the various exams.


Tapping on the joint screening tutorial brings up a similar checklist, again with the ability to email it.


At any point in the app, tapping the UCSF logo in the top-left brings you back to the home screen. The arrow next to the UCSF logo lets you go back through each page you have opened since starting the app.

In the bottom-left of the home screen is a tile for cases and checklists, and tapping here brings up a list of 6 case scenarios that you can learn from.


I have already done the knee pain case and it shows the last score I got when I did it. If you tap on the knee pain scenario it presents you with a clinical scenario and you have to answer a series of questions to move on.


Selecting and submitting an answer provides feedback on what you selected and whether your answer matches up with the experts’ picks. It also lets you know if there’s anything they picked and you didn’t.



So on question 3, I selected 3 responses.


My 3 selected responses were correct but there was a 4th response I missed.


After you answer the last question, a complete explanation is displayed for you to read and scroll through.


Tapping the ‘HOW DID I DO’ button brings you your results.


The other cases are similar and you can do them as many times as you want until you get to expert level.

Along the left-side of the home screen (and every screen) is a permanent toolbar with links to exams of the various joints of the body.
So for our 25 year old male patient, I wanted to brush up on the knee exam before seeing him. Tapping on the knee icon in the toolbar brings up a list of knee exams with corresponding videos.


The list is pretty comprehensive and the only thing I would have changed would be to separate the tests into general and special categories for easier browsing.


Under each test video is information regarding the relevance of the test and how to do it. There is also data on sensitivity and specificity of the tests.


All the videos are short and to the point and have clear and smooth audio and visual. It only took me a few minutes to go through the relevant videos and refresh my memory on the various knee exam components. Tapping on any of the other joint icons brings you to similar lists and videos in the same format.

At the bottom of the toolbar is a link to cases and checklists and information about the app.


The app features professors from UCSF and their names and credentials are listed. There is also a list of references and some links for technical support and comments.



Evidence and literature used to support the app

References are clearly listed and the app was developed in collaboration with UCSF professors, whose names are also listed in the app information section. We can’t emphasize how critical it is for medical apps to include references to their content – this process makes medical apps significantly easier to recommend and also more functional.

Healthcare providers that would benefit from this app

  • Family medicine, Internal medicine, pediatric, orthopedics, physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians, residents and medical students. Also, physical therapists and athletic trainers could benefit from this app as well.
  • All physicians, residents, medical students and other clinical staff who need a quick and reliable resource for MSK exams.
  • Price
    • $19.99 on iTunes
    • Very easy to navigate and search
    • Clear videos, audio and font
    • Reasonably priced
    • Strong references
  • Dislikes
    • Tests could have been better organized into general and special categories
  • Overall

    Great app with clear videos, reasonable pricing and strong references and backed by UCSF. I think it would be a great resource on the go for students looking to learn or physicians looking to refresh themselves on MSK examinations. You can probably get similar information for free by searching the internet but it’s not always reliable or readily available and at this price, this app is fantastic.

  • Overall Score
  • User Interface
  • Multimedia Usage
  • Price
  • Real World Applicability
  • Device Used For Review

    iPad mini with retina display

  • Available for DownloadiPhoneiPad