What It Is: Animated depictions of the normal swallow and various impairments. By Northern Speech Services, Inc.
Price: $7.99 (There is also a $2.99 version called “Normal Swallow” that only portrays a typical swallow.)
How It Works: Opening the app, there is an animated, lateral-view depiction of the oral, nasal, pharyngeal, and laryngeal structures with a white bolus between the lips. The centering of the depiction and zoom can be easily manipulated. There is also an option to change the speed of the video. Once the play button is pressed, you can pause, rewind, and fast forward. The menu button allows you to watch the normal swallow from an anterior-posterior view as well as watch a swallow depicting a variety of impairments (e.g. impairment of tongue-based retraction, impairment of initiation of pharyngeal swallow). There are currently 10 videos.
Therapy Applications: While the app is relatively straight-forward, there are actually quite a few potential applications for it. First, it can be a learning tool for SLP students or as a reference for SLPs. Second, as the app developers describe, it can be used for patient and family education. Third, having worked in group homes for adults with developmental disabilities, I could easily see this being implemented to train direct support staff. In all of these cases (SLP learning, patient/family education, direct support staff training), people are frequently presented with verbal information and pictures that are unable to give them a clear, visual understanding of the physiology of the problem. This app provides that visual knowledge in animated video form.
Pros: 1. The price is reasonable when compared to other medical apps.
2. Can be used with a variety of populations in a variety of settings.
3. Comprehensive depiction of all the structures involved in the swallow.
4. Ability to easily manipulate various features (e.g. zoom, centering, speed).
5. Appears to be getting updates that add more impairments. Hopefully this will continue!
Cons: 1. No verbal descriptions to go with the visuals.
Overall Rating: 5/5
The Take-Away: This appears to be an easy-to-use, well-developed app that addresses an area (dysphagia/swallowing) that is lacking in the app market. It can be used for a variety of purposes and has been well-worth my purchase.