I’ve been using my flashcard app, Anki, a lot this week. No, not because I’m studying my Spanish phrases like I should be. I’ve been using it with my therapy patients. Let me explain….
I use this app to do a form of graded motor imaging called left/right discrimination with my chronic pain patients. Often in chronic pain, folks loose the ability to feel exactly where their pain is located. They are basically a big, pulsing aura of pain. This causes the brain to not recognize the different body parts, as all the brain sees is the big pain bubble. By focusing on relearning what body parts look like and where they belong in relationship to each other, the brain again needs to remodel itself. Then the person can identify where the pain is coming from more easily and correctly, reducing the size of the pain. The left/right discrimination graded motor imaging technique asks patients to look at pictures of body parts and say whether the part is on the left or right side of the body. Flashcards come in really handy for this. You can buy some cards for about $40 + shipping from Australia from the fine folks at the link above. But I’m too cheap for that, so I’m employing my free Anki app.
Anki is a beautiful flashcard app. I use it personally as I said above. It is completely free to use from a computer, tablet or smart phone. Here are a few screen shots from their website to explain how to use it.
The features that I like for treating patients are:
— The flexibility in making the cards. When you make your own, you can make each “side” of the cards as fancy as you want with fonts, pictures, etc.
— When you’re reviewing and you flip to see the “back” of the card, it will ask you to rate the difficulty of that card for yourself from “fail, hard, good, easy.” That rating tells the program how long until it brings up that card again. So the easy ones you review less and the failed or hard cards more.
— The flashcard “decks” are shareable, so I can create a deck for a patient and then share it to them, so they can take it home for home program on their device.
— The summary page will tell me 1) if they’ve been doing their home program and 2) how they’ve been doing with it, so I can modify as necessary.
— If the patient can and will do this type of “exercise” at home, we can move on to other components of their treatment when they are in the clinic, getting them better and faster results.
— Anki is compatible with Quizlet, another popular flashcard app. So you can get decks from there as well, if you’re already running Quizlet.
— All of that for FREE. I like free. My patients like free. Everyone wins.
— These micro therapy sessions (about a minute per review session) can fit into even the busiest of patients’ lives. Review for a minute or two while you wait for dinner’s water to boil or at a stop light or sitting on the toilet or on the elevator. Everyone can find a few minutes a day here and there!
— Run it on several devices if you want. It will sync your progress between them all via the all knowing cloud.
I’ve also used it for confrontational naming tasks to help out my expressive aphasia folk. I can even have them take pictures of things they have trouble with when they’re not with me. Then I can help them add those items that are important to them to their personalized deck. (Salience is important!)
Just wanted to share, since it’s working well for me and my patients!