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Best iPad Apps for Physical Therapy

The iPad is truly an amazing and powerful device that can really be helpful when using specifically designed apps for physical therapy.  Below are 7 iPad apps that I use everyday and find really useful in the clinical setting.  These aren’t designed just for physical therapy, and can be helpful for many rehabilitation, fitness, and manual therapy specialties.

Clicking any of the titles below will take you to the iTunes app store for more information.

VisibleBody – 3D Muscular Premium Anatomy

VisibleBody’s muscle anatomy app is really impressive.  The detailes of each muscle look great on the iPad, however the ability to rotate, title, shift and move in any direction to look at the anatomy from any angle is priceless.  This is probably my favorite anatomy app at the moment.  You can also selectively remove muscles and fade muscles to get a sense of depth and how different muscles are positioned.  Here is a video demo of the app:



I used PocketBody for a long time before I found VisibleBody.  PocketBody is another great anatomy app.  Unlike VisibleBody, you can not freely zoom, rotate, and pan around the body to see the anatomy from any angle.  However, PocketBody excels at showing you the depth of anatomy, taking back layer by layer to see how each interacts.  This app really reminds me of the old Primal Pictures anatomy DVDs that were so popular in the past.

If you have to pick one, I would go with the VisibleBody Muscular Anatomy app above, however, I use both routinely together as the features of each really compliment one another.


Muscle Trigger Points

Muscle Trigger Points is an anatomy app that discusses trigger points in detail.  You can select any muscle you would like and see a detailed explanation and photo of common trigger points and referral patterns.  I’ve found the app to be pretty accurate and a valuable resource to help find and treat trigger points, if that is your thing.

I had a hard time finding a video clip demo of this app for some reason.  Here is a screenshot from my iPad.  I’ll try to embed a demo video below too but at the time of publishing this was giving me a glitch:

Trigger Points App



iOrtho+ is a comprehensive resource of over 200 orthopedic special tests and 88 joint mobilization techniques.  There are a good amount of references available with links to journal abstracts to define the efficacy of each procedure, which is a nice touch.  The main limitation of this app is the lack of video, however the techniques are clearly shown in well designed photos with force vector arrows added for clarity.


CORE – Clinical Orthopedic Exam

CORE, which stands for Clinical Orthopedic Exam, is another app with demonstrations of clinical tests.  Like iOrtho+ above, there are over 200 tests available with numerous references and links to view the abstract or entire article.  I feel like CORE has more references that iOrtho+ in my testing, but the biggest advantage CORE has is that there are actual video demonstrations of the techniques, not just still photos.  However, iOrtho+ has both special tests and treatment techniques in one app.    CORE is designed specifically for special tests with addition apps for manual techniques (see below).


Mobile OMT

Mobile OMT, or Mobile Orthopedic Manipulative Therapy, is an app by the makers of CORE above.  The Mobile OMT app has a ton of high quality videos of mobilization and manipulative techniques.  I thought the videos were easy to follow with nice descriptions of each test.  There are three seperate apps for the spine, lower extremity, and upper extremity.



Kinesiocapture is an extremely powerful video capture and analysis app.  For those that have used Dartfish on their computers, this is a similar piece of software that offers way more convenience by being able to record video, analyze, and review right on your iPad.  The app has lots of useful tools to measure angles, apply posture grids, overlay video, and watch two videos side by side.

There are a ton of great uses for Kinesiocapture.  In the fitness, performance, and biomechanical fields, the ability to assess sport performance is top notch.  For the rehabilitation specialist, you can measure angles, show changes over time or post-treatment, analyze posture, and assess movement quality.

Here is a screenshot from a couple of clips I shot measure hip ROM bilaterally, followed by a demo video of some sport performance applications:

Top iPad apps for physical therapy


Bonus!  Dropbox!

I should note that my FAVORITE iPad app is actually Dropbox as I can basically work with all my files from all my computers right on my laptop.  That isn’t really a physical therapy iPad app but worth mentioning!  Get 2.25 GB free space on dropbox by clicking here.  I will have to do a webinar for my Inner Circle members on how I use Dropbox one day!

I’m sure there are plenty more iPad apps for physical therapy that I never seen, there are so many!  What other iPad apps have you tried and recommend?


How Self-Pay Patients Have Made Me a More Effective Clinician

self-pay patientsToday’s post is a guest article by Jarod Carter, owner of a cash-based physical therapy practice, describing how self-pay patients have made him a more effective clinician.  I think this is a great thought and something we should all work towards.  His thoughts can apply to many different fields as well, especially the fitness and performance specialists with self-pay clients.  Here is the real challenge, though, if you aren’t in a self-pay situation, or you are an employee, how can you use these tips to make yourself more effective?

How Self-Pay Patients Have Made Me a More Effective Clinician

If I have to see a patient with an ankle sprain for more than 4-5 visits, I start to get nervous. Why? Because my patients pay $120 out-of-pocket for each one-hour session, and they expect to get better very quickly with that kind of expense; and the same expectations exist for just about any fairly recent non-surgical injury.

Aside from avoiding the hassles of Medicare and Insurance reimbursement, cash-pay patients can have another positive impact on your practice.  In many ways their presence both requires and leads you to become a better clinician. The ways in which this occurs are numerous, but I will expand on a few of them below.

Self-Pay Patients Are More Motivated

Whether you have an entirely fee-for-service clinic like mine, or just see a few private-pay patients here and there, you will likely notice a distinct difference between them and insurance-utilizing patients. On average, they tend to be more motivated to get better quickly and are more compliant with their home program. When they are paying 3-5 times more than a co-pay for each session, there is an inherent financial motivation to minimize the amount of needed treatments. I could be wrong, but if you were to grow the private-pay portion of your patient population, I imagine you would start to see faster and better outcomes solely for the above reason. Another positive side effect of this is that when the majority of your patients are highly motivated and compliant, it makes your job more enjoyable and rewarding.

[Editor note – I agree with this 100%.  This is also probably a big factor in the recent study that was published reporting that direct-access physical therapy produced better results with fewer visits.  Patients that choose to go to PT are going to be the most motivated.

More Hands On Time Means Better Patient Satisfaction

There are a variety of approaches to treatment and scheduling in the cash-based practices that I know of, but in general they all seem to provide more than average one-on-one time with each patient. There is also less (or no) utilization of techs or PTAs, and often modalities are not used either. In these situations, the added one-on-one time with the PT is another reason why clinical outcomes tend to be better with self-pay patients.

This is what compels the majority of my patients to forgo using insurance and pay up front for my treatments. My focus in the clinic is primarily on Manual Therapy and anything else that the patient can’t reproduce on their own time (I should also note that I don’t see a lot of post-surgical rehab patients, but see plenty that are trying to avoid surgery).

Trust me, you can get a lot done in 60 minutes of individualized treatment, and it’s quite luxurious for you as the Physical Therapist as well. In a normal clinic you may only have time for a few Manual techniques and some Therex before it’s time to move to the next patient. With a full hour available, if the first couple things I try don’t make an immediate and significant difference, I can keep trying new approaches and techniques.

For this reason, it’s rare that a patient leaves my office without having some type of significant improvement in their symptoms/movement. Simply put, if all else is equal in terms of clinical skills, the PT who spends an hour with each patient is going to produce more results per session than the PT who races from one to the next every 15-30 minutes.

Motivation to Improve My Skills

Returning to the first paragraph, one of the biggest motivating factors for me to always improve my skills is the pressure of higher expectations from my patients. Most self-pay patients will be paying out-of-pocket in hopes that fewer total visits will be needed. I’m not saying patients in a traditional PT clinic don’t expect you to do a great job; but I’ve worked in both insurance-based and cash-based settings and I assure you that the expectations are not quite the same.

To live up to this (especially as a fairly young PT), you tend to go beyond just the requisite CEU hours and continually seek out new information to improve your skills. If you’re a subscriber to Mike Reinold’s website and newsletter, you’re already displaying this type of drive to be better.

After all, if self-pay patients can get similar results by going to the insurance-based PT down the road, why in the world would they pay top dollar to see you?

My Patients are My Biggest Referral Source

This pressure to perform does not just stem from patient expectations, but also the nature of how referral sources shift in a cash-based practice. At least in my experience (and the experience of other private-pay PTs I know), a cash practice relies on word-of-mouth to produce new patients much more than it relies on Physicians. The reason why is beyond the scope of this article but is explained in more detail here if you’re interested.

In no way am I saying that every patient doesn’t count in a traditional PT clinic; but when your primary referral source becomes the patients themselves rather than physicians, you tend to go that extra mile for each individual on a more regular basis. If you disagree, please think of the times when you’ve had a referring physician come to you for treatment. Now imagine that every one of your patients was a referring physician. Interesting concept isn’t it?

About the Author

Jarod CarterJarod Carter, PT, DPT, MTC is a private practice owner in Austin, TX.  Jarod has formed a successful cash-based physical therapy practice and now has a website to help others do the same.  Check out his site for more information on cash-based physical therapy.