Best of Tech 2010…PT Edition


If you read as many blogs as I do (see Google Reader later in this post) you probably noticed many of them put together an end of the year review of what tools made a big impact throughout the year. I thought it would be a good exercise for physical therapists to see what devices/services exist out there and to consider the benefits of integrating them into your workflow. Maybe they can help you in 2011?

Let’s get started.

1. iPad

iPad was unveiled by Steve Jobs on January 27, 2010. Since then, it has become the most popular tablet device on the market and hundreds of applications are developed every month for use on the device, many that can be useful in a physical therapy clinic. In place of discussing iPad in the PT clinic in this post, I refer you to a post on this very blog, from Dec 20, 2010.

It will be interesting to see what happens with the iPad with the much anticipated release of the 2nd generation, rumored to occur Feb/Mar of 2011. Perhaps we’ll even see some sweet demos a “technopalooza” at the Combined Sections Meeting this month week.

2. The “Cloud”

I’m not talking about cumulonimbus here. I’m referring to the storage of information on a remote server, thereby making it accessible across many devices and to many users. It seems that the days of storing data on hard drives within your device are numbered – AWESOME COMMON CRAFT VIDEO HERE. Some cloud-based services that really gained traction in 2010 include Dropbox, Springpad, Google Docs, and Google Reader. Mike Reinold has an excellent post over on his blog about the applicability of these services in a professional setting.

Dropbox came in handy this past month at Colorado Manipalooza (Jan 22), when the instructor Paul Mintken shared with us all of the videos demonstrating the manipultion techniques that were covered. Although I cannot perform these techniques myself, I can imagine a clinician pulling out their smart phone (they all have one right?) launching the dropbox app, and reviewing a technique prior to meeting with a patient.

An area ripe for the enhancements of cloud-based service is the management of Electronic Medical Records (EMR). Bronwyn and Tejal have covered this in detail in a post on My Physcial Therapy Space.

So, you think you are already “in the cloud”? Take the nifty quiz put together by who else, Google.

3. Google

I say it all the time, everything Google touches turns to gold. My professional and personal endeavors have been made much easier by leveraging all the tools Google has to offer. Here’s a short list of reasons why you need to get a Google account, right now:

  • Gmail – have a pesky email quota on your work/school account? Forward your email to Gmail, archive all your messages and never worry about that quota 95% warning again
  • Google Docs – working on an in-service presentation with co-workers? Collaborate on a shared document to combine your efforts.
  • Google Reader – staying current with PT research. I get so many questions about Google Reader that I actually put together a screencast to show off how effective this tool can be. I consistently find out about the best research either weeks ahead of my peers do or I get notified on articles published on topics in Journals they might not have on their radar screen. Have a look at the screencast here:
  • Gcal – a really handy way to edit your schedule on a variety of computers and from your smart phone.

4. Video

If a picture is worth a thousand words, than a video is worth…..more. It’s getting easier to produce good quality videos with portable HD camcorders apps like iMovie and it’s gotten way easier to share those videos on the web with platforms like YouTube and vimeo. There have been so many good examples of the use of video in physical therapy in 2010.

For the 3rd year, Evidence in Motion put on their Elevator Pitch Contest. This contest required entrants to convey the selected message in a 30 second video. Maybe if you’re on the faculty of a PT Program you could encourage your students to participate in 2011. After all, the more competition, the better the videos will become. You can view the Second, and Third Place videos here. First place video here:

Although not a new technology, we’ve seen the embedding of lecture video become more common place in PT. This makes the presenters message reach more ears than just those in the lecture hall. Like this popular lecture from Dr. Timothy Flynn.

Lastly, to lighten to mood, we saw a series of videos from the students at Pacific University taking popular songs and giving them a PT twist:

5. Social Media

I’m not that compelled to review all the hundreds of social networks out there, those posts are a dime a dozen. And a lot of the biggest networks have been around prior to 2010. What I would like to emphasize is how these tools can be used to network, using the upcoming Combined Sections Meeting as an example:

  • Twitter – this tool is all about what is happening here and now. Check out the hashtag #CSM2011 to see what people are saying about the meeting. I was able to “participate” in conversations happening at #CSM2010 even though I could not be there in person. Also keep track of people attending #CSM2011 by following this curated list of twitter accounts attending the meeting (let me know if you want to be added to the list).
  • Plancast – another way to share your plans to attend certain events, like the meeting as a whole, or even any specific events at the meeting.
  • LinkedIn – meet someone neat at #CSM2011? Connect with them after the meeting using LinkedIn.

I you were expecting something to be on this list and it wasn’t there, please let me know in the comments below (that’s a big part of social media).

7 Replies to “Best of Tech 2010…PT Edition”

  1. An excellent breakdown of all things tech that PTs should definitely be taking advantage of. I have experience using all of the above on a professional as well as personal level and have to say that the online tools do wonders for networking and keeping up on the latest research. With regards to the iPad and cloud computing, these tools make clinical documentation easy, efficient and painless. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Force Therapeutics is bringing a new platform to the physical therapy market at CSM next week that leverages video technology as a tool for prescribing home exercise programs. The product boasts separate, yet interactive therapist and patient portals that enable seamless video streaming to the patient’s home computer or mobile device. The program is cloud-based, password protected (HIPAA compliant) and intuitive to use

  3. Nice post, I think our field is behind in the technological areas in many places. Acute care and out patient seem to be using technology yet, SNF are using very little. Currently working in SNF I don’t use much technology with my practice, however, personally I have used everything but cloud.

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