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Mobile Apps Offer Help for People with Brain Injury, Spinal Cord Injury and Multiple Sclerosis

Today’s smartphones and tablet computers are great at keeping people connected, but they also feature lots of tools that rehabilitation patients can use to boost their recovery efforts.

Shepherd Center speech-language pathologists and occupational therapists have compiled a brief list of apps that can be useful to people with brain injury, spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis when used in conjunction with a therapist and therapy program. Before buying any app, therapists say users should talk with them to get an idea of how it can help their specific situation.

Evernote allows people to make checklists and keep notes together with photos and voice memos all in one notebook. Plus, notebooks can be shared with others over email.

Remember the Milk
Make different types of to-do lists with Remember the Milk. Prioritize the tasks to help ensure the important ones get done first.
Make to-do lists, plus share and sync them with others. It also uses the phone’s microphone to allow tasks to be entered via speech recognition.

Week Calendar, CalenMob and Cozi
All three apps provide more customization than the calendar that comes with the iPhone or the Android device. They also allow family members to sync their calendars to the patient’s if they use the same app.

3D Brain
Featuring 3D pictures of the brain, users can move them around to explore how different regions are mapped out and work. 3D Brain is great for understanding how an injury to one area affects a patient.

This app features games that people can use to improve memory, attention and thinking speed. Use it either on the smartphone or on the computer.

HabiTimer and Rəmind
HabiTimer is available on the App Store for iPhone and iPad, while Rəmind is for Android devices. Both allow people to create multiple alarms. They are great for people with spinal cord injury, who have to reposition their body every half-hour to prevent pressure sores. They can also be used to set medication reminders, or for assistance with bowel or bladder care.

Gravity Screen
Some people have difficulty pushing the home button to wake up their smartphone, so Gravity Screen allows Android users to awaken their device by either touching the screen or wiggling the phone.

Speech Assistant and Speakit
For people who have difficulty speaking, Speech Assistant for Android and Speakit for iPhone or iPad allow them to use their keyboard to enter phrases into their device and then play them back whenever they would normally say them. Although it’s not been updated in awhile, many patients still find it a functional and inexpensive app.

Speaker Phone Control
For Android users with mobility issues, Speaker Phone Control sends all calls to the speakerphone automatically without the need to push buttons. On the iPhone, just select Call Audio Routing, under Settings>General>Accessibility.

Harmony and Peel Smart Remote
Users of the iPhone can use it as a television remote control by using the Harmony app with the Harmony Ultimate Hub that attaches to a TV. Android users with Samsung devices can use the Peel Smart Remote.

ICE (In Case of Emergency)
Use the free version of this app from Apple’s App store to put all emergency information on the phone’s lock screen. ICE comes standard on some Android devices.

Ok Google and Hey Siri
Android users can use Ok Google and the microphone to conduct hands-free calls, as well as text messaging, email and reminders using voice activation. Apple users can use Hey Siri for the same tasks, but only while charging the phone. Ok Google can work without charging, but it drains the battery.

Written by David Terraso

About Shepherd Center

Shepherd Center provides world-class clinical care, research, and family support for people experiencing the most complex conditions, including spinal cord and brain injuries, multi-trauma, traumatic amputations, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and pain. An elite center recognized as both Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News as one of the nation’s top hospitals for rehabilitation. Shepherd Center treats thousands of patients annually with unmatched expertise and unwavering compassion to help them begin again.