Physio exercises via mobile phone app another tech first

A new mobile phone app created by two physiotherapists from country Victoria is set to fundamentally improve patients’ at-home rehabilitation.

The app is being used in conjunction with traditional physiotherapy consultations, providing informative “how-to” videos for clients doing rehabilitation exercises between appointments.

Exercise Connect is available on both Android and iOS, offering more than 800 videos demonstrating between 400 to 500 exercises for rehabilitation, and strength and stability training.

Launched six weeks ago, the app comes in two versions – a free one for the clinic’s clients and a ‘pro’ version for health professionals.

A subscribed health professional, such as a physiotherapist, can open the ‘pro’ version of the app and select exercises best suited to their client.

Each exercise can be customised by choosing the repetitions, times and the frequency per day. Users can then choose when the client will receive push notifications reminding them to complete the chosen exercises.

The app even has a built-in feature to add special instructions using a Siri-like microphone, allowing it to be tailored to each client’s specific recovery.

App founders Marg Perrott and Tajinder Singh, who run the Kilmore Physiotherapists Centre, about 60 kilometres north of Melbourne, have spent the last year bringing their idea to reality.

“Exercise Connect used the thought processes we as health professionals use every day,” Ms Perrott said.

The app includes a mix of traditional and contemporary exercises, with plans for these to be updated around four times a year as physiotherapy research continues to evolve.

Both founders believe the app is more effective than the existing paper hand-outs with sketched exercises, which can be misinterpreted by clients, risking further injury.

“All my clients say ‘I know what to do now’ ”,  Mr Singh  said.

The client version of the app is offered free to the Kilmore clinic’s clients, with plans eventually to offer the pro version on a subscription basis to other health professionals.

The decision to offer the app free for clients was a simple one, with Ms Perrott believing that “even 20 cents would be a barrier to clients”.

The physios have been business partners since 2013, just 12 months after Mr Singh, who is originally from India, moved to Kilmore and joined the centre.

Both brought considerable professional experience to the creation of the app, with Ms Perrott  having worked more than 30 years as a physiotherapist, and Mr Singh having seven years’ experience in Australia, coupled with prior experience in India.

Mr Singh first came up with the idea of  a physiotherapy app last year, believing that it would help clients understand and safely complete their exercises at home.

The partners hired an Indian-based app developer, while Ms Perrott’s son, Llewellyn, a contract technology all-rounder, filmed and ‘white-screened’ the background of all 800 videos to date.

The physios are now in the process of trademarking the app, while awaiting approval from the Apple Store for the pro version, which is currently only released on Android.

Already, they are fielding phone calls from interested health professionals across Australia.

A small advert placed in the industry physiotherapy magazine ‘In-Motion’ two months ago had generated keen interest in Exercise Connect, they said.

Weighing up the cost of life as a freelancer

Freelancing, despite erratic pay and low rates, is still a feasible path for prospective journalists who are not afraid of rejection, according to a panel of media professionals.

“Don’t ever let a rejection define you,” said full time freelancer Amy Gray, advice which was backed by a former editor-in-chief of Private Media, Sophie Black, who nonetheless cautioned that freelancing required “a thick skin”.

Junkee editor Steph Harmon said she received almost 20 story pitches a day and writers needed to understand how the editorial process worked.

“Don’t just sit there,” she urged. “You have to be pro-active, as well, and say to them: ‘Please get back to me’, and if they don’t, then move on.”

Gray said she took a lot of time to find the best home for her work.

“You’ve got to get pretty smart about where you pitch. For me, there’s a bit of a formula.”

This involved writing two big pieces a month for publications such as The Monthly or The Saturday Paper, or for a mainstream newspaper, and following up with “bite-sized” articles, such as short opinion pieces.

But Gray said this strategy could be upended when payments were delayed, such as when Fairfax changed its payments system and she was forced to wait 12 weeks for her money.

Gray, who was taking part in a New News workshop on freelancing at the Wheeler Centre(link is external), said making a viable plan was like “freaking Tetris”.

“You have your end-of-the-month goal – unfortunately — and I’m trying to get to that end goal where I need to pay my rent, or whatever, and then I suck it up and go and do a little contract,” she said.

However, Gray said this was made even tougher as the money paid for freelance articles had been halved in recent years, with almost no publications willing to pay an agreed rate per word.

The panellists were unaware of any publications currently paying at the rate of 93 cents a word, as recommended by the journalists’ union, the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, but New Matilda’s national affairs correspondent, Ben Eltham, said it was not all bad news.

“I’ve been talking to a whole lot of other writers and it’s just a little bit better than it has been,” he said.

His advice to journalists was not to underestimate the importance of building a relationship with different editors, and to be flexible.

“I say yes to everything,” he added.

Gillian Terzis, who edits the quarterly magazine The Lifted Brow, also advised freelancers, particularly women, to not put themselves down when pitching to an editor.

“Strike a balance between being confident and being open to collaboration.”

But what about the issue of aspiring journalists writing for free in order to get a foothold in the industry?

Junkee’s Harmon, who is a member of the Pay the Writers group, said journalists needed to weigh up what being paid meant to them, and not to feel bad about writing gratis.

“There are different ways you can get paid for your work,” she said. “It might be feedback. It might be mentoring. Just keep that in mind.”

But Harmon was adamant on one rule for freelancers. “Don’t ever write for a publication if you’re not getting edited and not getting feedback.”

Originally published on The Citizen on October 9, 2015