iPads can be used for more than just everyday, in-home entertainment. Therapists at Baptist Rehabilitation-Germantown are using the thin, easy-to-use tablet as part of a pilot program for therapy.
Physical and occupational therapy can require the use of various equipment to help people regain the ability to do things. If a patient suffers a stroke, brain injury or spinal cord injury and needs therapy, many different tools can be used to help with recovery along with regaining speech and movement.
Kim Robbins, speech therapist at Baptist Rehab-Germantown, describes a patient who suffered a stroke and didn’t have the use of the right side of his body. She knew the patient would need a lot of work.
“He wasn’t able to say anything. The patient could comprehend what you were saying fairly well, but he wasn’t able to get his needs and wants across. However, he was able to read and point to the iPad and say ‘I’m thirsty or I need a drink.’ This really opened up the door for him to get his needs and wants met,” she said.
There are at-home machines specifically designed for speech therapy, but they can be expensive. The therapists at Baptist Rehab did some research and found they could use a less expensive iPad for speech therapy. In fact, many free or low-cost apps are designed for that purpose. The therapists began using their own personal iPads for therapy with patients.
“Before the iPad, and we still do this sometimes, we would send home homework like pencil and paper tasks out of workbooks, where patients can take them home and complete it with their spouse or alone if they’re able. They bring the homework back, and we check it and see what they did right and what they did wrong and go over it.”
With the iPad, patients receive immediate feedback while they are completing the tasks so they get their score and it tells them immediately if they got something right or wrong, and they can work on it at home.
“It’s almost like getting a therapy session at home, as opposed to just doing a task and bringing it back,” Robbins said. “We have already seen a lot of patients make progress re-learning how to speak and remember information during the therapy process using the iPads.”
Patients who have iPads at home have downloaded the apps to do additional therapy at home.
With such an initial success with the new treatment, Baptist Rehab acquired its own iPads for the pilot program.