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School and Program Updates

School and Program Updates

Augusta Creates Award-winning App to Teach Joint Function

When Mr. Jason Hughes first began showing his occupational therapy class how to measure range of motion, the scene became a jumble of students armed with smartphones and iPads maneuvering around him to capture the lesson for future reference. He thought there had to be a better way, particularly with today’s high prevalence of bone and joint diseases.

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So Mr. Hughes, assistant professor at Augusta University (formerly Georgia Regents University), developed a simple, award-winning resource that quickly and easily gives students a visual, comprehensive look at anatomy and joint range of motion. Within months of its release in March 2015, the OT Kinesiology Pro Consult won gold in the education technology category of the 2015 Design 100 App Awards. As it was discovered by students and teachers worldwide, word of mouth quickly led to over 8,200 downloads in 27 countries in less than eight months.

The app’s straightforward, intuitive design enables users to visualize anatomy and joint range of motion by interacting with an animated 3-D skeleton model. To see the motion to be measured, a simple tap on the skeleton leads to a clear illustration of the prime mover and assist muscles responsible for the joint movement, the correct goniometer placement and alignment, and a video highlighting how the motion is clinically measured. An alphabetical scroll function offer even quicker access to the information.

As a result, both instructors and students spend less time clarifying typical physiology, which in turn frees up valuable time “to look at what’s important,” said Hughes. “Students learn the usual function better, which leads to better interaction in the classroom so they can focus on the dysfunction.”

The app’s clever design is also proving helpful in unexpected ways. Very quickly after its release, Mr. Justin DeMarchi, an Augusta OT student on his final rotation at Johns Hopkins, used the app in what was likely its first clinical application. “A stroke patient was about to get Botox injections and we were discussing what muscles should be avoided so he could still use tenodesis for pinching and grasping small objects,” he said. “Thanks to the app, we could rapidly decide what to recommend for our patient’s treatment.”

Dr. Andrew Balas, dean of the College of Allied Health Sciences at Augusta University, anticipates practicable use for the OT Kinesiology Pro Consult in the public health arena as well. “This app is really a foundation in understanding normal function in order to concentrate on the abnormal. I see enormous value to its use in many areas, such as bone and joint care or rheumatoid diseases, conditions that have become a national priority as the population ages.”

The free app is also proving to be a valuable tool for occupational therapy clinicians, who practice in a field broad enough to range from mental health to pediatric acute care. Having a visual resource, a “refresher course at their fingertips” makes for smoother job transitions.

At the recent 2015 American Occupational Therapy Association Education Summit in Denver, Hughes was frequently asked why he hadn’t included a manual muscle testing option on the app. But he had deliberately resisted the impulse to include everything. “I didn’t want it to be too congested or difficult to navigate,” he said. “I wanted it to be simple, convenient and consistent.”

Mr. Hughes and his team of instructional designers are already planning a second innovative app in response to those requests. He is also writing the outcome results of a classroom study to determine the app’s effect on learning outcomes.

Visit the iTunes store here to download the OT Kinesiology Pro Consult app.