When it comes to pediatric healthcare, taking advantage of app and tablet technology can be an effective, fun and interactive way to help kids and families learn about the hospital, a new diagnosis or upcoming procedures. Healthcare experience can be challenging for anyone, especially a child and their caregiver, so in addition to their medical care and other interventions, effective apps can also serve as wonderful distraction and a way to “normalize” an otherwise unfamiliar and scary environment. When used properly and with supervision, they can even help children more effectively cope with scary and painful procedures.
We’ve all heard the saying “there’s an app for that!” and for the most part, it’s true. But there are…brace yourself…over 100 billion apps out there, and they are not all the bees knees. So how to do you know which ones to recommend to your patients and families? We’ve scoured the Internet (and tested many out ourselves) to compile this list of wonderful pediatric healthcare apps!
If there are other apps you love to use in your practice, please tell us about them in the comments section below!
APPS FOR HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS
AUDIO-Medical Spanish: (Free) This app offers Spanish translation for common medical questions.
Blausen Human Atlas HD Lite: (Free) Great anatomy resource for professional; interactive 360 degree rotatable Human Body figure, narrative animation of common medical conditions, etc.
drawMD Patient Education for Heathcare Providers: (Free) Quickly provide patients with accurate, easy-to-understand custom illustrations to help them learn about medical conditions and procedures. Includes drawing templates for: anesthesia & critical care, cardiology, ENT, General Surgery, Pediatrics, and more.
Medscape: (Free) Medical resource app for Child Life Specialists to research clinical information.
Autism Apps: (Free) Provides comprehensive list of apps being used with and designed by people with autism, down syndrome, and other special needs.
Body Organs for Kids: ($.99) Teaching app – use when talking to patients and/or families about body parts or organs. Shows pictures and uses child-friendly/developmentally appropriate language for children and gives the option of listening to narration by a high school student.
Build A Skeleton: ($.99) Interactive simple app that allows children to build either an adult or child skeleton.
Carb Counting with Lenny: (Free) Interactive app that teaches children how to count carbohydrates and eat a variety of foods. Increases control and confidence in the management of their diabetes through games.
GarageBand: ($4.99) Turns iPad into collection of touch instruments and a recording studio. Allows up to three different people, on three different iPads.
The Human Body: (2.99) Explore a working model of the body. Every part is interactive: the heart beats, guts gurgle, lungs breathe, the skin feels, and eyes see. Designed for kids to discover what we’re made of and how we work.
iMovie: ($4.99) Apple’s app for shooting and editing movies. Also great for recording and editing soundtracks by uploading songs from the app GarageBand.
KidneyDiet: ($4.99) Helps support patients with kidney disease by keeping track of their diet, foods they eat, their doctor’s recommendations, fluid intake, etc.
Parenting Ages and Stages: (free) Contains information including articles addressing common questions parents may have development, nutrition, sleep, and behavior and discipline. There is a search function in which the user may enter in a key word.
Re-Mission 2: Nanobot’s Revenge: (Free) You are a super-powerful microscopic robot battling evil cancer cells. Your mission: destroy a growing tumor before the cancer baddies escape into the blood stream.
Simply Sayin’ – Medical Jargon for Kids: (free) Uses pictures, sounds and child-friendly terms to facilitate clear conversations between healthcare provider, child and family
The Human Body: (2.99) Explore a working model of the body. Every part is interactive: the heart beats, guts gurgle, lungs breathe, the skin feels, and eyes see. Designed for kids to discover what we’re made of and how we work
My Incredible Body: ($4.99) Children and adults can learn pieces and parts of human anatomy in this interactive explorative guide. Very comprehensive
Child MRI Prep: ($1.99) Helps prepare children for the MRI machine. Uses child-friendly language, pictures, and multiple different MRI sample sounds.
Riley Child Life Tour: (Free) Provides children with visual photographs of equipment children may see in the treatment room, operating room, interventional radiology room, and recovery room. It also provides great preparation videos for ultrasound, waking up in the recovery room, cold spray (IV prep), etc.
X is for X-Ray: ($7.99) Use when preparing a patient or family member for x-ray. Shows x-rays of over 20 different objects; the pictures are interactive and allow children to manipulate the view: zoom in, zoom out, rotate, etc.
Amazing Coloring Studio for iPad: (Free) Provides over 100 different coloring pages and over 40 coloring utensils.
Angry Birds: (Free) Aim and launch birds to destroy structures. Advance to more complicated levels. All ages. Available in variety of other versions.
Balloonimals: ($1.99) Good for distracting a child in pain or discomfort. Balloon animals inflate when you blow into the microphone. Watch the balloon inflate and shake to construct your animal. Pet your “balloonimal” to see what tricks it can do, then shake it until it pops.
Bubbles: ($.99) Made specifically to distract toddlers. Creates bubbles and other objects for children to pop: bubbles, snowmen, balloons, etc.
Bubble Harp: ($1.99) Creates pictures as you make music by simply touching the screen.
Bubble Wrap: ($.99) Bubble wrap simulator
Draw Something Free: (Free) Similar to Pictionary; computer gives three words. You choose one to draw and then your opponent tries to guess your pictures; vice versa. Pay against friends or random opponents.
Drums! – A studio-quality drum kit in your pocket: ($.99) Basically a drum kit. Great for kids with too much (or too little) energy.
Easy-Bake Treats!: (free) Make, bake, decorate, eat and share virtual cakes, cupcakes, cookies, cake pops and pizza. Pick the mix, fill the pan with batter and water, mix it all together and slide the pan into the virtual oven to cook. Add decorations, candles. Etc.
Fruit Ninja: ($.99) A “juicy” action game with squishy, splatty and satisfying fruit carnage! All ages.
Elmo Calls: (1.99) Answer interactive video calls from Elmo, or call him yourself.
Elmo’s Monster Maker HD: (2.99) Build-your-own-monster app, which will allow your child to design a silly, singing, and dancing monster
Gravilux: ($1.99) Interactive app – draw with the stars using your fingers. As you touch and interact with the screen, the stars are drawn to your fingertips and follow them as you move. Also allows you to change colors, number of stars, etc.
Lightning Was Here: My Puzzle Book: ($.99) Interactive reading app that allows children to complete puzzles, collect “sticker” decals, plays music, can record the child’s voice when reading the book, etc.
MeMeTales-Children’s Stories and Picture Books: (Free) Books include Sleeping Beauty, Thumbelina, Jack and The Beanstalk, and more. The developer offers a free new book each week, as well. App asks for users to create an account.
Monkey Drum: (Free) Create music by tapping your fingers on the screen, unlock instruments such as a microphone or acoustic guitar, and make your own music videos.
Lego Juniors Create & Cruise: (Free) designed to give children age 4-7 a great first experience with the LEGO brick through iconic, fun and Easy to Build models
Little Things Forever: (2.99) Collect puzzle pieces and solve puzzles. Ages 4-8.
Real ChalkBoard: ($1.99) Draw on a realistic chalkboard with different-color chalk — much more fun than it sounds.
Talking Tom 2 for iPad: (Free) Interactive talking cat named “Tom” which allows anyone to pet him, poke him, feed him, etc. There are many other apps just like this one featuring different animals. For example: Furry Friend, Talking Gina the Giraffe, Talking Larry the Bird
Tesla Toy: ($ 1.99) Features an interactive “particle toy.” When the fingers touch the screen, they generate what looks like a powerful electrical field that makes the thousands of particles react beautifully. Kids (and adults) often are mesmerized by this app for a long time.
Toca Hair Salon: ($2.99) Choose between six cute characters and cut and style them in whatever way you want. They make funny faces and sounds while you style them, and feels like you’re cutting real hair
Toca Train: (2.99) Not a game it’s a toy where you and your kids decide what you want to do. Where do passengers want to get off? At what stop should you unload the crate of pears? Imagination is the only limitation. Just like a toy train set.
PBS Kids Video: (Free) Provides a safe, child-friendly viewing experience for all ages. Kids can easily browse and watch videos anywhere with a 3G or WiFi connection.
Weird But True by National Geographic: (Free) Wacky facts and tantalizing trivia that will engage curious kids and parents alike, Weird But True presents each of the 625 facts in a fun, colorful, and interactive format that will keep kids entertained and learning.
Peekaboo Barn: (1.99) Inside the little bouncing barn, friendly farm animals are waiting to pop out and surprise your little one. Anticipation will keep them engaged and distracted. Babies and toddlers.
VizWiz: (Free) Take a photograph of an object, speak a question (example: what is this object?), send the photograph to a database, and receive an answer typically within seconds. This app was designed for those who are blind.
RELAXATION, MINDFULNESS & COPING APPS
Budhdify: ($4.99) Practical, playful and beautifully-designed, buddhify increases your wellbeing by teaching you mindfulness-based meditation
The Healing Buddies Comfort Kit: ($.99) Offers interactive, virtual way for kids and teens to learn and immediately benefit from self-care techniques to manage common symptoms like pain, worries, nausea, fatigue and trouble sleeping. Contains several integrative medicine techniques adapted for use by children and teens that are quick and effective for symptom control so kids can get back to doing what they like to do – and need to do each day. Techniques designed by leaders in the field of pediatric integrative medicine and have been tested for years in several leading children’s hospitals and clinics.
Fluid: (Free) Turns screen into water and with your fingers you can swirl the water around. Gives you control over how fast you want the water to move, if you want “Zen” music playing, and what background you want.
Fluid dynamic: (Free) Create moving, fluid-like pictures with your fingers; gives the illusion you are painting with colored water.
Fluid Monkey: (Free) Turns screen into a pool of liquid; resembles glowing water. Gives you control over what colors you want to “paint” with, if you want to add balls or sparkles, and control over how you want to interact with the screen (change pressure, friction, etc.).
Koi Pond: ($.99) Run your fingers across the cool surface of the pond and water ripples away from your touch. The koi fish, disturbed, dart away… only to quickly forget and swim close once more. Includes soothing sounds
iLava (Virtual Lava Lamp): ($.99) Turns screen into a Lava Lamp; allows you to change color, turn heat source “on/off,” etc.
Long Deep Breathing: ($.99) Helps patients learn and understand the “long deep breathing technique.” Allows you to determine the duration of the exercise, the duration of the breaths, optional verbal instructions, and color/graphic background.
Simply Being- Guided Meditation for Relaxation and Presence: (.$99) Meditation app designed to promote deep breathing, relaxation, and stress relief. Gives you control over the duration of the meditation session, gives you the choice of what type of music or nature sound you would like to have in the background, and provides instructions. Meditation Oasis (the developer of the app) offers many other very similar meditation apps.
Take a Break!-Guided Meditations for Stress Relief: (Free) Simpler (and free) version of the “Simply Being” app.
ZenView: (Free) watch as the fresh spring rain creates a changing pattern of ripples across your camera view. As the gentle sound of rain mixes with the tranquil ripples moving across your world just touch the screen to add your own drips and drops.
White Noise Pro: (2.99) Features 50 HD stereo ambient sounds of the environment to help you relax during the day and sleep great at night.
Google Translate: (Free) Translate between 102 languages by typing. Offline: translate 52 languages
Proloquo2Go – Symbol-based AAC: ($249.99) Provides a voice to over 150,000 individuals who cannot speak. Designed to promote language development and grow communication skills. Innovative features support users, parents, teachers and therapists to quickly personalize the vocabulary and settings.
Skype: (Free) Make voice calls, video calls, and message other users. Great for out of town family, and people who cannot enter isolated or immune-compromised areas.
APPS FOR TEENS
Frotz: (Free) Interactive “fiction game,” involves reading, thinking, and typing.
Icomania: (Free) Icon recognition game – celebrities, movies, and more
Khan Academy: You Can Learn Anything: (Free) Over 10,000 videos and explanations in math, science, economics, history and more.
Natalie Brooks – Secrets of Treasure House: (1.99) Solve puzzles, find hidden items and interact with characters. Logic puzzles, jigsaws, memory games and more.
The Room Two: (1.99) A physical puzzler, wrapped in a mystery game, inside a beautifully tactile 3D world.
Sky Gamblers Rise of Glory: (2.99) WWI combat game – player pilots their choice of revolutionary flying machines during dawn of aerial warfare. Engage in fierce air-to-air and ground-to-ground combat.
TowerMadness 2: (4.99) The aliens are back, and this time they are on a mission to turn your beloved sheep into sweaters for their emperor! Protect your flock using quick thinking and an arsenal of weapons.