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Lumosity: An Exercise Program For Your Brain

So often, we focus on our physical health, but neglect our mental health. All forms of dementia are devastating. Many people complain of brain fog. Thousands of people suffer from attention disorders. While I don’t claim to know the cure for any of these things (or even the cause) I do think that exercising the mind is just as important as exercising your body. I mean, if your brain fails, then your life ceases to exist. It’s a pretty important thing to take care of!

I saw a commercial today for a website called Lumosity.com. It sparked my interest, so I decided to check it out. The website says that it “turns neuroscience breakthroughs into fun, effective games” and it’s a way to “harness your brains neuroplasticity [the brain’s ability to grow and expand] and train your way into a brighter life.”

To be honest, it seems like it is set up a bit like an exercise website. When you sign up, you answer some questions about where you want changes to be made. Changes can be made in any of five categories, all of which have subcategories. These categories are memory, attention, speed, flexibility, and problem solving. You can select as many or as few of these categories as you want. After doing this, you can create an account and view your free and personalized training program, and you can personalize your training even further.

The program changes with you — as you get better at the challenges, you get newer ones. Each of the “sessions” include a variety of games to help you improve in the areas you initially selected. You get points very every game you do, to help you track your progress. The games are actually pretty fun, and challenging, and scientifically developed to help increase your brain function.

The basic version of Lumosity is free, but if you really want to get into the program, there are paid options. This gives you more games each day, more personalized training, and more. People spend hundreds, maybe even thousands, on personal training at a gym, as well as countless hours…so why not spend some of those valuable resources on making sure your brain is in tip-top shape? I thought this was a cool idea, and I think it could be a great resources for anyone wanting to exercise their mind. Apparently, 97% of Lumosity users improve after just 10 hours of training (which can be seen in the personalized tracking portion of the website.)_

Lumosity Brain Trainer is also available as a free download for iOS devices.

June 10, 2013 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

SlimKicker Turns Tracking Food and Exercise Into a Game

If incentives cause people to lose weight, does competition do it as well? Well, SlimKicker, might prove if that is true as well.

At first glance, SlimKicker looks like just about any other food and exercise diary. You can enter exercise, food, and track your weight and other goals. However, it hosts different challenges that its users can join, and some of them yield actual prizes — not just badges like many sites have. Many of the challenges give you points for winning, which I will talk about next.

SlimKicker is similar to Weight Watchers in the sense that is point-based. However, instead of losing points for the foods you eat, you get them. The healthier the food, the more points you get. And what can you use the points for? From what I can tell, you can redeem them for prizes, but I have yet to figure out

One of my favorite parts of SlimKicker is the visualization aspect of it. You can upload a photo of the rewards that you want, when you reach a certain goal our level. When you reach those, SlimKicker lets you know, and you can redeem the reward. While it is up to you to provide the reward “promised,” it’s a nice reminder to see a reward whenever you login.

SlimKicker’s goal is to help its users keep motivation. How many of us have gotten all revved up about a new exercise regimen, or diet, only to give up on it a week later? I know I’m not the only one. With the challenges and inspiration feed that SlimKicker has, it is easier to stay motivated.

I know I talk a lot about food and exercise trackers here, but there are just so many, and to be honest, many of them have really unique features. One of the best ways to stay healthy, and out of the doctor’s office, is by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and by using these websites and apps, you can do just that.

There is a free app for iOS devices, which can be downloaded here.

March 25, 2013 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

T2 Mood Tracker Updated and Wins Award

Several months ago, The Department of Defense released LifeArmor, an app created for military families coping with stress.  T2 Mood Tracker, released in 2010, was also created by a department in the Department of Defense. This app was created to help people, particularly those in the military, track their emotions over time and be able to use it to discuss with their healthcare provider. Although this app has been available for awhile, it recently had some updates.

The app was originally created for military personnel, but it has become very popular with people not in the military as well. It comes with six pre-loaded “issues” that can be tracked, though customized ones can be added as well. The six included are anxiety, depression, general well-being, head injury, post traumatic stress disorder, and stress. After selecting the issues, the user simply moves the slider to select which word describes them best at any point.

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After doing this, the app will automatically graph the results, and a user can also write down notes throughout the day, to give insight to why certain times were worse/better than other times.

With the recent update, users can do quite a few new things, which include:

  • PDF or CSV generated reports that can be printed or email for a provider
  • Data can be backed up to a phone’s SD card
  • Find psychological health support in your area
  • Set reminders to update moods
  • Results are shown in easy to read graphs

I really like this app, from what I’ve seen, and I think the updates make it even more user friendly, and helpful for those that are using it. I’m glad that it is now being encouraged for people in and outside of the military to use it as well.

This app also won first place in the general wellness category of the Apps4Army competition. It can be downloaded for Android and iOS devices, free of charge.

February 28, 2013 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

The Beam Toothbrush Transforms Dental Hygiene

A few years ago, an old roommate of mine informed me that I grind my teeth almost constantly as I slept. After talking with some people, I discovered that this, combined with some dental problems I encountered in high school, could be the underlying cause of many of my health problems. Primarily, migraines. Before that point, I didn’t realize just how much dental issues can affect other parts of the body.

So when I saw the Beam Toothbrush,  I was pretty excited. There’s so many devices out there to help improve people’s health, but I’ve never seen anything that really focuses on teeth brushing, which is essential for good health.

The Beam Toothbrush is a toothbrush that monitors oral hygiene, and sinks the data to a smart phone app. The app will then track the data for all activated brushes, create graphs with the data, and inform the user of certain things, like a missed brushing time. Each brush can only be assigned to one user, for obvious reasons, but several users can be tracked on the app.

From the looks of the website, and just the idea behind it, I think this is a toothbrush that is aimed toward children. It seems like a good way for parents to see if their child is really brushing their teeth. Because ask any parent — most kids aren’t the best brushers out there. I know I wasn’t.

I like the idea behind it, and I’ll be interested to see if it takes off at all. I’m not so sure I’d spend 49.99 on a toothbrush that wasn’t an electric one, especially for a child, but it might be an well-made investment for those who have children that forget to brush. Knowing that your parent has access to your teeth brushing “records” may be good motivation for some not to forget.

It comes in either blue or pink, and runs on AA batteries. It is a manual toothbrush, so it’s not going to be as fancy as ones like the Sonicare brand (which is what I use, and love), but it seems perfect for children. It is available for 49.99, and replacement heads are 3.99. Dentists and oral surgeons can also purchase them for resell. The app is only available on iOS systems.

February 27, 2013 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Five Essential Apps for Medical Emergencies

I’ve come to learn that you must always expect the unexpected. It’s easy to see natural disasters happen to people across the world, or hear about tragic accidents, and think, “Well, that would never happen to me!” Believe me, I think that all the time. Unfortunately, emergency situations inevitably happen to everyone. And when those situations come up, it’s better to be safe, than sorry. There’s a lot of apps out there that have been designed to make emergencies a little more bearable, and some are specifically for health-related emergencies. Here’s five apps I think everyone should have on their smart phone — just in case.

1) Alert.MDThis app was created to make sure medical professionals can access information quickly and efficiently during an emergency situation, and to ensure family members are notified as well. Basically, after you register for a free account, you are giving a ID number that you superimpose onto the screen saver or background of your mobile device (the function to do this is in the app.) In an emergency, a medical provider can search the number on Alert.MD and immediately have access to the individual’s emergency contact info, allergies, medications, and known medical conditions. One of the reviews I read said, “I don’t know if I would be here right now if I had not downloaded it!” And others expressed similar sentiments.

Available for free iOS devices; register account for free at Alert.MD

2) First Aid by American Red CrossIt’s not hard to find a first aid app — there’s tons of them. However, not all are created equally, and I think this one created by the American Red Cross is one of the best. It features step-by-step guides for a variety of different first aid scenarios and the ability to call 911 from the app. Not only does it provide information in emergency situations, but it has education for people wanting to learn first aid, in the form of quizzes and videos. The information can be accessed without a wireless internet connection. It is a very clean, user-friendly app, that I think just about anyone could benefit from having. Just as a side note, the American Red Cross also has recently released apps that deal with natural disasters that seem to be pretty handy, all of which can be accessed from the link above.

Available for free on both Android and iOS devices.

3) iTriage Health: The description for this app says it answers two questions — “what medical condition could I have,” and “where should I go for treatment.” It has a doctor search, to help you find a doctor or facility that can best treat your symptoms, as well as find hte nearest ER, urgent care, mental health clinic, and more. Average wait times for local emergency rooms are also available. The database helps users to determine whether or not they need to go to the ER, and what course of action they should take. There are a whole bunch of other features which make this kind of an all-in-one emergency app — I meant, it has almost 5 stars and over 50,000 reviews, it must be doing something right!

Available for free on both Android and iOS devices

4) smart-ICE4FamilyThis is an interesting twist on the typical emergency information card. The owner of the phone can pre-record a message that plays off information for anyone that presses it. It has places to enter medical information, difficulties, and even “expressed wishes.” There is room for up to 8 people in the app, so a parent (or caregiver) can have all the information they need concerning the health of those in their family or that they care for. One interesting feature is the alert function. When it is pressed, emergency services are called, and a siren goes off. This could be helpful if someone is home alone and has either fallen, had a heart attack, or feel they can’t get to a place that EMTs could find them easily. It also has a “my location” button, which makes it easy to give information to a dispatcher, which would be helpful if someone is an an unfamiliar place.

Available for iOS devices for 2.99.

5) !Emergency!: What happens if you are visiting another country, and an emergency happens? Not every country uses 911 like America, and this app helps solve that problem. It’s simple enough, but basically just provides the emergency contact numbers for countries around the world, as well as helps the user locate hospitals and emergency rooms. It automatically detects which country the user is in, and suggests the correct phone number to call. Obviously, not everyone is going to get a use out of this, but for those that travel, it’s almost a necessity.

Available for iOS devices for .99

December 6, 2012 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Another Great Food Diary App To Consider

One thing I love about posting on Smart Phone Health Care is that when I’m researching for my posts, I come across pretty neat apps or ideas. Awhile back, I posted about some great food diary apps. Tonight, I want to talk about the latest one I have come across, called LoseIt! My interest was sparked after I read this article. The author said he lost 11 pounds in 6 weeks using this free app. After looking at the website and the mobile app I downloaded to my Android phone, I’m pretty impressed and going to start using it in conjunction with Couch-to-5k.

When registering, you are asked your age, gender, and how much you would like to lose a weight. You have to select between .5 and 2 pounds, and, depending on what you select, a daily calorie allotment is adjusted to your specific needs and gives a projected weight goal date. For someone who likes to see something full circle before I begin something, this is great, even though it’s not guarantee.

The process is simple enough. When logged-in, the home page is your log, and you simply just click on “Add Food” or “Add Exercise”, and assign a food to the correct meal. The food database isn’t too bad, but isn’t nearly as comprehensive as I found MyFitnessPal.com to be. The food section is fairly organized, allowing users to select from not only the database, but a selection of restaurants and supermarkets. I think that would be nice if you couldn’t remember the specific name of a food from a restaurant but could recognize it from a list.

There are quite a few different options on the website. Personal goals can be set (or adjusted). A variety of reports can be generated, such as weekly summaries, BMI, or a “MyPlate Report”. The “MyPlate Report” basically analyzes the food from your daily reports and shows you if it matches up with the recommendations from ChooseMyPlate.gov.

Users are encourage to use the app with friends, as the website claims “that users with 3 or more friends lose 3lbs more than users with no friends on Lose It!” There are also quite a few forums available for support, tips, or just chatting with fellow-users. I liked the “Teams, Contests, and Fun” forum the best, because who doesn’t like a little competition for motivation?

One of the best parts, in my opinion, about this website is the “motivators”. You can set reminders at certain times of the day to remind you to record meals if something hasn’t been recorded by a certain point. This reminds me a little bit of a smoking cessation program that has been created to help people quit smoking by sending motivational reminders throughout the day. I could see these reminders being helpful if a person knows when weak times are.

The app is easy to use but nothing too fancy. It’s simple to see how many calories are left for the day, as well as view a weekly report.

Overall, it seems like another great option for a food diary, but I think for the time being, I will stick with the MyFitnessPal platform. Fortunately, this is a free app that is available both for Android and iOS.

July 2, 2012 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.