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Touching Wellness

When I first got my iPod Touch, I figured I'd use it for listening to music, maybe browsing the web, reading an
Audible
book or two and that'd be pretty much it. I thought it was a really cool concept, but didn't expect it to become an indespensible tool. I certainly didn't expect my iPod to become an important part of my self-care and coping skills because I knew very little about what I was getting myself into.

Like many users of Windows, I'm pretty used to inaccessible applications, the need for scripting and the general excessive effort needed to find applications which do what I want and are accessible. While there are some access features built into Windows, much of accessibility comes through adding on, not as a native option. Unfortunately, my experience has been that there aren't a lot of accessible applications for Windows which relate to my health concerns. Even many of the web sites with health tools are challenging or nearly impossible to use with a screen reader. So honestly, I didn't have high hopes for finding accessible applications for the iPod Touch. Wow, was I ever surprised! My observation is that not all applications are accessible or usable with Voice Over on the iPod Touch or iPhone, but many are. I don't know if this is because Voice Over is built in, or if the development community is more responsive, I just know that I've been able to get a lot of great apps for my iPod Touch. If you don't believe me, check out the
Accessible Apps List
I know, I link to that a lot, but it's just such a great resource and I really admire the time and energy that goes into creating and maintaining a list like this. I want to give credit where credit is due and say some of the applications I'll discuss here I found out about through this list. Others I found through my own exploration. If you have other health-related applications for the iPhone that you like, especially if they're accessible with Voice Over, please leave them in the comments. I'll either link directly to the iTunes store link, or when possible, a web site where you can read more about each application. This is by no means exhaustive, but hopefully it will help you in your quest for wellness!

iRelax and iRelax Premium


This is definitely a favorite. It comes in several "flavors", I've seen a free version, a Christmas version and the premium version. Basically, it's an application which simulates a sound machine. You can mix any mix of relaxing sounds including various relaxing musical pieces, nature sounds and other sounds depending upon which version of the application you have. The premium version even includes various brain-wave-entrainment sounds and frequencies to assist in different levels of concentration or relaxation. I don't know if I find that feature to be useful all of the time, but this application is really easy for me to use and it does what it says. When I use it, usually, I relax.
Visit the iRelax web site

Applications by Michael Quach


I've been fortunate to find several products designed by the same author which are accessible and simple to use. There are many more, but these are the ones I use:

Affirmations


You know those books which tell you to carry affirmations (also known as positive statements you want to come true) around on index cards? I have read a few of these in my time, and I was always frustrated. Brailling an index card and sticking it in my pocket just resulted in smashed dots. I could keep a file on my computer, but that wasn't portable enough. Well luckily for me, there's actually
an affirmation app
for the iPod Touch/iPhone. It's quite easy to use, just tap the screen once and Voice Over announces the affirmation. Tap twice (double tap), and the next affirmation appears. I tend to use the split tapping method, leaving one finger on the screen and tapping with the other to switch and announce the affirmations. It's portable, the dots don't get crushed and it's easy to use. I find it a great way to counter negative thinking.

Brain and Nervous System


This app gives an overview of
disorders which affect the brain and nervous system
again, it has a simple interface and while it's not a complete reference, it gives enough information that one can get a pretty good idea of what the condition is. I could see this being helpful for students or professionals who work in the medical field but don't have medical training. Specifically, I can think of several ways a social worker could use this as a quick reference to understand a condition she or he's never heard of.

Mental Illness


Along these same lines is the Mental Illness application which covers
topics in mental health
it's good information and could be useful for patients and professionals.

Psych Drugs


While we're still talking about mental health, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the application
Psych Drugs
it gives basic information on various psychiatric medications which can be helpful in understanding what the med is for and how it is dosed. I know that as a social work student, I wouldn't know everything a psychiatrist, or other doctor would, but it would still be important to understand treatments my clients received, especially if I were a social worker in a field relating to healthcare. And again, it's quick information for me as a patient, too.

There are many other applications relating to medicine and health by this author, so I won't go into all of them, but the important thing is that I have literally not come across an application that I couldn't use from this author.

Daily Recovery


This application seems to be geared towards people participating in 12 step groups, but if you're not in one, you can still benefit. I truly don't remember how I found this one, but the daily quotes are often just what I need to lift my spirits. Again, the quotes can be read by tapping on them, but since one quote is presented each day, there's no need to double tap on the quote.
Daily Recovery

Web MD


What would a list of health-related applications be without a reference to Web MD? The
Web MD mobile app
is actually quite accessible, even the symptom checker can be used with Voice Over. It's a great way to get the information you need when you need it, without going through the huge web site. I've only begun exploring it, but it's proven its usefulness already.

iPeriod


If you're a guy and this makes you uncomfortable, too bad. I love this nifty application for tracking my menstrual cycle. Maybe it's too much information, but I always hate going to the doctor and being asked when the first date of my last period was. It's not like I spend my life memorizing this. Even so, for several reasons including the effect menstruation has on pain and my thyroid problems which can suppress menstruation, it's important to keep track of this information. My understanding is that the more data you enter, the better the application is at tracking and predicting menstruation. I definitely find
iPeriod
to be a helpful tool.

Medscape


Medscape provides health information geared toward medical professionals. It's a bit more indepth. I haven't played around much, but the application does seem to be quite accessible.
Medscape for the iPhone
would be another reference for students or even patients who want to understand their health and their bodies in a more in depth way.

Pzizz Applications


Sleep and relaxation are important for everyone, but if you have a chronic illness, they're even more vital. These two applications will help you with sleep and relaxation. The settings tabs are a bit confusing, but they're still worth the effort! Check out:
Pzizz Relax
and
Pzizz Sleep
for relaxation suggestions, music, timers and more.


My Pain Diary


This application has really become indespensible to me. I've always known that a pain diary can be helpful, but never had a successful way to use one until now.
My Pain Diary
has been extremely helpful as I've been dealing with my usual pain plus migraines. I've already used it one medical appointment to give a doctor a better idea of what the pain is like and how I treat it. And because it's on my iPod Touch, I have it with me when I need to record an event in my diary. Setting the intensity takes a little bit of guess work, but I have high hopes for this application already. It's great to be able to refer back to information I've gathered and give my doctor a better idea of my whole pain experience. It's extremely customizable, which is great for anyone with weird pain symptoms, like those of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. It's even possible to track triggers and remedies.

While these aren't the only medical applications which can be used with Voice Over on the iPod Touch or iPhone, they are some of my favorites. I'd love to hear about your favorites, so please click the link to add a shot of espresso and add your comments about this list, applications relating to health or questions you have about any of the applications I listed here.

Related Reviews and Articles


Comments

( 5 shots of espresso — Add a shot of espresso )
rredhead
Jan. 19th, 2010 01:53 am (UTC)
I'm not sure if I mentioned this before. When I worked at Oracle, my group was responsible for the documentation accessibility initiative - making all Oracle documents accessible to readers with disabilities. That mostly meant the blind, though we also considered the cognitively impaired. It was awful how many people were like, "Well, how many blind sys admins are there anyway?". Totally not the point!
At my new company, nothing is accessible, and any mention I make about it is immediately tamped down. I'm glad to hear that Apple and the various developers are working towards greater access.
puppybraille
Jan. 19th, 2010 02:48 am (UTC)
You hadn't mentioned that. That's really cool that you were a part of that! And yeah, I hear the "How many blind (insert job here) are there?" argument a lot. People don't realize that what makes something accessible for me might allow for use while driving or walking or even watching TV. I'm sure you've heard the argument that's often used which says that when wheelchair ramps were first required, it was a big issue, but then they realized that they help Mom's with strollers too.

I'm sorry you're running into so much opposition in your new job. If you ever want any help with access arguments, feel free to ask me!
rredhead
Jan. 30th, 2010 05:16 am (UTC)
I really liked doing the accessibility work. I wish more companies were concerned with it. My company is openly hostile to it. They don't want to do anything more than they have to. That's part of why I dislike my job so much. Unless they can make a profit off of it, they don't want to do it.
puppybraille
Jan. 30th, 2010 03:54 pm (UTC)
That's really too bad, but it's not uncommon. Are you familiar with the CSUN conference? That's where I gained a lot of my accessibility knowledge.
rredhead
Feb. 27th, 2010 06:19 am (UTC)
The CSUN Conference sounds amazing! Do you live near Northridge?
( 5 shots of espresso — Add a shot of espresso )

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