The whole idea about apps for therapy is that it makes the work easier for both the clinician and the client. The clinician spends less time preparing the materials and instead devotes more time interacting with the client. There are thousands of therapy apps in the App Store, but there are only a handful that are as effective, as functional, and as flexible as Spaced Retrieval TherAppy, the newest release by Tactus Therapy Solutions.
The app prefers a portrait orientation (we used an iPad 2 for this). The main screen shows three rectangular boxes for three targets. To set up a target:
- tap on the box to create a new target
- select a type of interval for this target (standard or graduated)
- set the start and end intervals (minimum of 15 seconds, maximum of 32 minutes)
Depending on the session’s plans, one can either read the question out loud to the client or have the client read the question him/herself. Tap the Check icon if the answer is right (or X for a wrong answer).
If the answer is correct, the timer will count down from the start interval you had set up. If you tapped X for an incorrect answer, tell your client the right response, have him/her repeat it, then tap the Check mark again to have the timer count down. An alert will sound if it’s time to ask the question again. If your client gives a correct answer, the time interval increases. If the answer was wrong, the interval decreases.
(It’s so simple, it’s brilliant. The clinician need not look and track time using a separate stopwatch each time.)
- Square button: to pause the clock
- Continue: to resume
- Email: to send a summary of the data via email
- Delete: wipe all data from the target
- Quit: end the activity without emailing the results
Spaced-retrieval training (SRT) is an evidence-based therapy approach that has been used countless times for individuals with memory difficulties. We didn’t have such a client at the time we tried the app out, but we did have a 60-year old female patient with Broca’s aphasia and attentional difficulties. We have been trying to wean her away from cues whenever she answers questions during word-retrieval activities. Since she loves talking about food, travel and shopping, we wrote our target questions into the app’s boxes.
Bottomline: she loved the app. She was extremely successful in answering our target questions, we found ourselves changing questions after 2-3 repetitions. She didn’t need cueing at all. All she did was look at the timer tick down, looked at us when it was time (as if asking us to read the question), and she readily gave her answer. BOOM.
- the interface: clean lines, easy on the eyes. When you have a client struggling with incoming visual stimuli, you definitely want something that looks simple but displays relevant information without being overwhelming.
- the EBP-ness of it: SRT is supported by several studies, and you can get the links to these by going to Tactus Therapy Solutions’ website here.
- time intervals options: at the time of this writing we have not yet come across an app that takes into account time intervals for SRT. Time intervals is a simple yet crucial setting that is built into the app.
- works in the background: one need not have the app on-screen all the time while waiting. The client can work on another app (or even go through pictures on the iPad), and a notification window will simply pop up and remind the user that the target question needs to be asked again.
- the possibilities of…! adults with language and cognitive impairments can benefit from this. From word retrieval, recalling one’s schedule for the day, orienting one’s self to day, date and place… almost any memory target can be entered in the app. Children can also benefit from the app and accomplish several therapy goals.
- light in price and in memory: we believe a lot of our friends would run out of excuses for not purchasing this.
- more sound options: the app’s current version uses one chime only
- word retrieval
- recalling of schedules, tasks, appointments
- visual processing