Tools for therapists

I’ve made it almost all the way through my first semester in the residency.  While it is challenging, I am learning a lot and would highly recommend residencies to any new grad or new professional.  Over the past few years I’ve upgraded and purchased new equipment for personal use in the clinic, so I thought I would share what tools (physical items and technology) I’ve found helpful.

Physical Tools

  1. BP cuff: In PT school we were issued a generic (cheap, but not super-cheap) supply kit which included a BP cuff and a stethoscope.  Considering I take BP’s regularly throughout my day, and that I’d be learning more about cardio-pulmonary issues in the residency I thought I should upgrade my equipment before I got here.  I found out about a cool BP cuff that has the gauge and the bulb together (so one tube instead of two) from the medical director I used to work with, which reduces how much you are having to juggle – well worth the money, and it doesn’t cost that much.
  2. Stethoscope:  I searched for guidance on picking out a new stethoscope and didn’t found much online.  One tube or two?  What is the difference in the different materials for the head?  Bell and diaphragm, or just the diaphragm? What makes one over $200 vs. a $20?  I steered away from the 2-tube version (the tubes can rub, although there is debate if the overall quality is better).  I ended up going with the Littmann Master Classic II, and I was amazed at the improved quality over the cheap one from school.  Mine has a tunable diaphragm (light pressure = bell for higher pitches; apply more pressure it becomes the standard diaphragm for lower pitches).  Why this one, vs. a cheap one?  Some may say “do you really need one like that for PT?  Are you diagnosing a heart condition or lung disease?  Don’t you just take blood pressure?”  Yes, I do take BP’s, but I also listen to the lungs, not just of my SNF/TCU patients, but also of my outpatients.  Why?  Because we have the time, we can catch things before it becomes a problem, and we can document it and how it can impact outcomes.
  3. Pulse oximeter:  I haven’t gotten one yet, but they are cheap now.  A quick and easy way to get HR and O2 sats before, during, and after exercise.

Tech Tools

  1. “The cloud”:  Have you ever wished you had access to articles that are on your home computer (or vice-a-versa)?  I no longer have to carry a USB key, or email the article to my work email when I get home.  Evernote is a great tool to keep articles, tools, references, etc within easy reach wherever you are.  You can create folders to organize by topic.
  2. A dashboard: Have you ever been frustrated by staying on top of current evidence, or keep up with the blogs you read?  I was using Google Reader for subscribing to blogs, but my mentor introduced me to NetVibes.  On my dashboard, I have a page for blogs, a page for journals, and a page for news.  I also have some PubMed searches I keep track of (with my interests in exercise adherence and hip fractures).  Once you have it set up, it is just a matter of checking it once a week or so to see what is new.
  3. iPadWhat better way to work on coordination than through a game with the iPad?  Okay, that was a joke, although I’m sure I just gave someone a bad idea.  Seriously though, it is not only a great tool for reference (I have a basic phone that just makes phone calls), but also for patient education.  Some good/ great apps that I have: MB Anatomy, DrawMD Cardiology and Orthopedics, Bamboo Paper (for drawing), Medscape (GREAT for conditions, meds, and med interactions), 3D Brain, Evernote (the cloud!), CORE Clinical Orthopaedic Exam (haven’t purchased OMT’s Spine, UE, and LE apps, also by ClinicallyRelevant), Hootsuite for Twitter, and a BMI calculator.  I’m trying to convince the powers-that-be that allowing me to have wireless access would be a benefit to the clinic.  We’ll see how that goes.

2 responses to “Tools for therapists

  1. Thanks for the info. I’m a new grad and I’ve been trying to figure out ways to keep up on evidence. An iPad is definitely on my wish list!

  2. Sarah,
    I forgot to mention that AAOMPT has an app that can help stay on top of the evidence. Also once I finalize the netvibes page for my facility project I’ll post it on the blog.

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