13 Health Apps: How to Integrate Technology In Your Rehabilitation Setting

With decreasing length of stays in skilled rehabilitation settings, many clients reenter the community with wellness needs unmet. This transition is an exciting opportunity to use technology as a tool to enhance health and wellness.1

The advent of computer technology has changed how people interact with their environment and each other. Computer access is essential for an individual to stay employed, informed, intellectually active, and socially integrated. The ability to use a computer and other digital devices is critical for productive and independent living.2 Additionally, significant findings support the idea that computer usage may be correlated with increased independence in Activities of Daily Living (ADLs).3

Addressing the unmet wellness needs, and coinciding with the holistic view that occupation and health are inextricably linked, e-tablets and smartphones are now acceptable assistive devices that can facilitate occupation-based health promotion.4

App Groups

Using Hettler’s Six Dimensions of Wellness as a visual model of understanding, consider integrating a smartphone or tablet application group within your rehabilitation setting.5 The group’s purpose should be to teach clients about the assistive technology available to them through smartphone or tablet use. The group’s goals should encourage participation in physical, intellectual, social, emotional/spiritual and environmental occupations for a more holistic rehabilitation experience. This participation supports AOTA’s Practice Framework goal statement of helping people to, “achieve health, well-being and participation in life through engagement in occupation.”6

Tips for building and maintaining an app group:

Building a Group – During evaluation, ask your client if they integrate smartphone or tablet use in their daily routine; if so, would they be interested in an app group to support their use of wellness focused technology?  If yes, ask the client to bring their device to the group.

Necessary Tools – Tools for the group include a television for group viewing, a tablet-to-video adapter, a HDMI cable, and a handout of the apps to review.

Accessibility Features – Start the group by demonstrating the built-in accessibility features of their device including zooming, dictation, and font adjustments.

Discussion – Discuss how to link emails to calendars to assist with appointment scheduling and promote successful transitions to the next level of care.

13 Apps for Health and Holistic Wellness

Physical Wellness Apps

Many clients who receive rehabilitative care are focused on their physical wellness. This component of the group might receive the most attention and interaction from participants. Physical wellness apps include:

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Intellectual Wellness Apps

Shift the discussion of the group to explain that wellness goes beyond our physical needs to include our holistic well-being. Intellectual wellness apps include:

Emotional Wellness Apps

Emotional wellness apps are also a part of our holistic well-being:

Patients can also participate in their IADLs through banking apps or shopping apps.

Socialization Apps

Practitioners should educate their client on socialization opportunities through video-chatting apps or leisure apps too. Leisure apps feature socialization through interaction with other app users. Some examples of these socialization based apps include:

To conclude the group session, you can provide a checklist handout for the client to review and recall which apps to download. AOTA also updates recommended apps on their website.

  1. (2014). Occupational therapy framework: Domain and process, 3rdedition. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 68, S1-S48.
  2. Charness, N. (2001). Aging and communication: Human factors issues. In N. Charness, D. C. Parks, & B. A. Sabel (Eds.), Communication, technology and aging: Opportunities and challenges for the future (pp. 1–29). New York: Springer.
  3. McConatha, D., McConatha, J. T., & Dermigny, R. (1994). The use of interactive computer services to enhance the quality of life for long-term care residents. The Gerontologist, 34(4), 553-556.
  4. Wilcock, A. A. (2007) Occupation and Health: Are They One and the Same? Journal of Occupational Science, 14(1), 3-8.
  5. Hettler, B. (1976). The six dimensions of wellness model. National Wellness Institute Inc.: Stevens Point, WI. http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.nationalwellness.org/resource/resmgr/docs/sixdimensionsfactsheet.pdf
  6. (2013). Occupational therapy in the promotion of health and well-being, American Journal of Occupational Therapy,67(Supplement 6), S47-S59.