Tuesday I published an article on MacMost.com, “Your iPad and Your Neck,” about the potential physical problems inherent in using your iPad. Neck and back strain are a major component of using an iPhone, iPod, iPad, or any other handheld device. As a companion to that commentary, I’d like to give you a solution to help reduce potential pain while using your portable devices. To that end, I evaluate the Motion Doctor iPad App, a physical therapy program with exercises to help stave off future or present problems. If you currently experience what one young reader on MacMost calls Apple Neck or if you sit most of your day in front of a screen of any sort, the app may help you iron out some of those kinks.
Product: Motion Doctor iPad App (version 2.2)
Company: Blue Whale Apps, a division of Blue Whale Web Solutions, Inc.
Link: iTunes Preview
Recommended: Yes with cautions.
Simple video demonstrations.
Categorized by body part, sport, activity, and occupation.
Includes commonly recommended exercises and stretches.
Can tag favorite pages to create your own routine.
Does not walk you through or suggest a typical routine for different types of problems.
Does not act as a guide while you do the exercises.
Does not count for you or have a clock to use as a timer.
List of physical therapists by state is a waste of space.
Did not find a way to play music while exercising.
I received a request to look at Motion Doctor from Blue Whale back in late June. At the time I socked it away because I didn’t feel adequate to evaluate the app. For one, it’s been a few years since I wandered through college as a physical therapy major (which I abandoned) and two, I had no recent experience.
About a month later, my car was broadsided by a moron picking his phone up off his car floor instead of stopping at the red light in front of him. Unfortunately, I was driving my car at the time. If I’ve said this before, I’ll apologize now, but that accident threw me for a loop. A routine of physical therapy has enabled me to function better, but I fear one of my knees will never be quite the same. The bright side is that now I do have recent experience with physical therapy treatment, so that I feel up to the task of evaluating Motion Doctor.
The Motion Doctor iPad App, created by Dr. Desirea D. Caucci, PT, DPT, has four main areas from which you can choose. The topics include Body Parts, Activity, Sport and Profession. They cover all the most common sports, (18 of them) and nine general occupations that put undue stress on our bodies. I recommend every portable user to check the neck and hand exercises in the Body Parts section or in the knitting activity section, because there is not a typing activity or sport listed. (Typing could be a sport, couldn’t it? :::: grinning and ducking::::)
A human demonstrates each exercise and from my knowledge they are accurate and helpful. All of the knee, neck, and back exercises assigned to me over the past few months are included in the app. My physical therapy staff seemed quite impressed with the range of activities included in Motion Doctor. A FAQ page explains what is Physical Therapy and gives some helpful advice. If you have a physical therapist or are under a doctor’s care, then you know which exercises you need, and this app is a good exercise companion to a point.
Most of the activities include a video, a text explanation, and a rationale for the exercise. The rationale briefly explains the purpose of the movement. Some of these explanations are too brief though. For example, do you know what are your wrist flexor muscle groups or your which muscle is your trapezius? I know these things from studying anatomy and physiology, but not everyone has this knowledge and I think these terms should include an explanation or a picture of where they exist.
My issues with Motion Doctor are minor, assuming you know what you’re doing. First, they do not cover which exercises are safe for what type of injuries. That means if you have back problems and just jump in you could hurt yourself or make your problem worse. Blue Whale needs to add more text as to what each exercise does or ancillary body parts affected and whether you should get a physician’s ok to do a particular exercise. For example, I would not start with the one below, even if I sat in front of the TV all day. So, you need to use your own judgement as to whether you can do an exercise safely.
Second, they do not make it clear the sequence of exercises you should use to strengthen or stretch a particular area. If you choose activities based on body part they appear in a sequence from easy to hard, but I know from personal experience that not all of the activities are recommended, depending on your previous injury history.
Third, I have discovered that it is almost impossible to figure out time when told to hold a position for 10 to 20 seconds without a timer of some kind. It’s very easy to underestimate how long you do something. When I started using the app, I expected it to walk me through each movement like an exercise video or CD works. In most exercise CDs, they count for you, and the leader does the exercise with you. That helps reinforce the quality of your own movement and adds that extra bit to make sure you hold postures or do a movement for the specified amount of time. Minimally, I would appreciate a clock that counts out seconds to use along with some of the movements.
I also think Motion Doctor would benefit from added posture advice in each exercise. For example, a sentence that reminds you to stand straight with your shoulders back or to keep your knees bent or straight would help. That all too important reminder to breathe regularly is also missing.
A list of physical therapists by state is another feature of the app, but it is woefully incomplete. For example, there are at least four PT offices in my town alone and none of them are listed, even though one company has branch offices in multiple towns. I think that a link to a web site that licenses physical therapists would be much more useful. For example, Health Guide USA provides a state lookup service for licensed therapists, while Physical Therapists.com only lists practices by name.
If Blue Whale reduced the price to $9, I could recommend this app with less reservations, but for $14, I think the app needs more advice, explanations, and recommended routines. The exercises it shows you will help with hand, neck, and back strain, but I recommend you talk to a physical therapist first to decide which exercises are best for your situation or pain.