New Dysphagia Apps
Since last month when I reviewed the app Dysphagia
, a new series of dysphagia education apps has been released by Blue Tree Publishing. There are four apps in the series, priced at $4.99 each for iPad only, to cover normal swallowing, oral disorders, residue disorders, and aspiration disorders.
Swallow ID is the only app I've used personally, but all four apps appear to function in the same way. Swallow ID features the lateral view, posterior view, and superior view of the swallow, each in three modes: structure ID, animation, and video for a total of nine views. In structure ID mode, the user can touch any part of the pictured anatomy for a detailed description of the feature. The language is medical, suitable for student or professional education rather than patient learning.
The animations and video are the most valuable parts of this app for patient education. The animation shows a blue water bolus travel through the view you've selected. The video mode shows either a video fluoroscopy (MBS) or endoscopic (FEES) view of the selected view. After reviewing the anatomical landmarks, it's easy to show a patient what the bolus transit should look like, and then how it looks on actual tests. While the clinician can then point out what might go wrong, the other apps in this series step in to illustrate the dysphagia.
Oral Disorders features the same 3 modes, while the views include normal, bolus loss, "dysphagia," and nasal regurgitation. Residue Disorders shows structures, animations, and videos for normal, valecular residue, pharyngeal residue, pyriform residue, and delayed swallow. The final app, Aspiration Disorders, showcases normal aspiration, silent aspiration, and penetration in addition to the normal view.
The apps feature high-quality drawings, animations, and videos, in addition to detailed information. While these apps are fairly simple, a few instructions about how to use them would be a useful addition. Sold as 4 separate apps, they really could be packaged as one: every app includes the normal swallow and the same layout. It's unlikely an SLP would need to educate or learn about just one set of disorders, so why not integrate them into a single app?
Comparing the Blue Tree series to the Dysphagia app, there is no clear winner. The Blue Tree series features structure labels and real videos, but Dysphagia has speed control. The Dysphagia app has a more attractive package, giving users access to all the swallowing disorders at once for only $10, whereas the Blue Tree series requires 4 purchases totaling $20 to demonstrate each dysfunction. Dysphagia focuses on the cause of the dysphagia (e. g. pharyngeal contraction, hyolaryngeal excursion) while the Blue Tree series organizes the graphics by sign/symptom (e.g. nasal regurgitation, vallecular residue). Both approaches to dysphagia education are valuable for both students and clients as teaching tools.