Physical Therapy

5 Best Physical Therapy Apps That Empower Patients

Below, we’ve listed five of the best physical therapy apps out there for your physical therapy practice to consider.

Since 2020, the use of remote and digital health tools has skyrocketed. Venture capital investment in digital health increased threefold from 2017 to 2020, and telehealth is being used at 38 times the rate than before the pandemic. Mobile apps for smartphones and tablets are a big part of this technological revolution because they put the care in patients’ hands, using the devices they already own. And physical therapy apps are a key way physical therapists’ offices can get in on this health tech boom.

Virtual care might seem at odds with the hands-on nature of physical therapy. But the increasing sophistication of mobile devices has made PT from home a possibility, and today, there are multiple apps designed to make home exercise protocols (HEPs) easier for patients to follow and PTs to monitor.

Below, we’ve listed five of the best physical therapy apps out there for your practice to consider.

1. Exer Physio

(source: App Store Preview)

Exer Physio relies on a key feature of most modern devices: a camera. The camera, in conjunction with the app’s custom-built motion AI platform, measures both the patient's range of motion and proper form. After a patient completes an exercise, the app generates reporting on important metrics for the PT to review at their convenience.

And Exer Physio isn’t only for at-home use. PTs can rely on Exer Physio during in-person sessions to ensure good form and to get precise measurements on range of motion and joint speed. It watches 24 points on the human body and can measure 100 different types of exercises and movements.

With patients’ busy schedules in mind, the app also sends daily reminders to complete their HEPs. The goal of Exer Physio is to work with PTs, not to replace them. The unique AI-powered solution is designed to make a comprehensive PT journey more accessible to patients and to empower practitioners with novel, high quality metrics that don’t exist in their practice today.

This app is free to download so that anyone can demo the platform, but full access requires that PTs or clinic owners provide the technology to the patients directly. It’s available for Apple devices with other platforms coming soon.

2. Orca Health Apps

(source: App Store Preview)

Orca Health boasts a suite of applications that make patients more knowledgeable about their own bodies and care. PT Decide, their main app, is described as a patient education and engagement tool for outside the PT’s office. It features interactive 3D anatomical models and lets patients and providers learn more about the body. Additionally, the app houses hundreds of stretches and strength exercises for patients to watch and do at home.

One of PT Decide’s main selling points is its accessibility. App developers say it is “particularly effective for those with lower health literacy, patients with English as their second language, and the elderly.” In addition to PT Decide, Orca Health also offers Knee Decide, Hip Decide, Foot Decide, Spine Decide, Elbow Decide, and more. These apps dive deeper into the conditions and rehabilitative exercises that affect each area of the body.

PT Decide is $8.99, and the body part-specific ones are $3.99 each. It’s available for Apple devices.

3. Pt Pal Pro

(source: App Store Preview)

Pt Pal Pro is a patient engagement platform that works to strengthen the relationship between patients and providers. Their platform stores treatment plans, advises on therapies, and sends reminders for appointments to patients’ phones. Patients can ditch the printout or handwritten note detailing an exercise plan and rely on Pt Pal Pro for instructions on their exercises.

The platform integrates with a practice’s electronic health record (EHR) system to allow for seamless data transfer. One of the app’s most important offerings is detailed patient analytics. It monitors factors like a patient’s activity adherence as well as asking patients how they felt (emotionally and pain-wise) during their exercises.

This app is free to download and available for Apple devices.

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4. PT Timer: Stretch & Exercise

(Source: App Store Preview)

PT Timer focuses on the scheduling and pacing of PT exercises. PTs enter the exercise plan in the app, and PT Timer helps the patient move through the plan. It counts reps and sets and cues patients with indicators to prepare, start, release, and rest their movements.

When the exercise is over, patients can make note of what went well and what was difficult. The app generates a PDF report and sends it to their physical therapists. This app’s focus is on execution and accountability. It enables patients outside the office to move through their regiments easily and smoothly while following a PT’s specific instructions.

One four-star review says, “Took a bit of time to figure out how to set up things but once I got the hang of it things went very smoothly, and tuning intervals and such has been simple and straightforward. I really like being able to set things up on my iPad and then transfer to my iPhone. The only hitch is that there is no landscape mode for use on tablets.”

The app is free to download but requires a subscription for full use.

5. MedBridge Go

(source: App Store Preview)

MedBridge Go relies on “gamification, reminders, and push notifications [to] engage patients as active, daily participants.” It’s a comprehensive app that lets patients work through their HEP easily by providing looping demonstrations of the exercises, tracking progress, and sending reports to providers. Automated reminders keep patients working on their exercises on time, and in-app messaging allows patients to easily reach their physical therapists.

This app is a simple, easy-to-use link between patients and practitioners. It keeps patients engaged in their recovery while providing thorough feedback for providers to adjust plans as needed.

One four-star review says, “I really love how this app works for the most part. I don't have to remember everything my PT gives me, I don't even have to worry about counting because all exercises are set to a timer so I can just focus on doing it right ... My reason for 4 stars has to do specifically with not being able to focus on the exercises I want to in my program during each session.”

The app is free to download but requires a MedBridge Enterprise subscription.

Physical therapy apps support recovery but don’t replace PTs

Mobile applications can be helpful tools that guide patients through complex exercise routines or remind them to keep up with their HEPs (a key factor in recovery). But they can’t substitute the guidance and care of a physical therapist. The future of healthcare looks a lot like the future of work, socializing, and shopping: a combination of technology and personalized care. 

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