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There really is an app for everything… even pelvic floor exercises!

And research proves supervised pelvic floor home exercise programs can reduce treatment time and result in significant improvement over in-office therapy alone.

So why don’t all my patients have pelvic floor apps? Especially at the beginning of treatment, those exercises can be difficult enough to squeeze into a daily schedule without the added anxiety of scrolling through hundreds of options to find an affordable and reliable one; and no one wants to base sensitive healthcare decisions on anonymous user reviews.

Wouldn’t it be great if a medical expert could cut through all the clutter?

That’s exactly what a team of six experts at the University Of New Mexico did, braving the cyberwilderness of Google and iTunes to identify a daunting 120 pelvic floor apps for smartphones. Next, they painstakingly combed through the offerings to eliminate the sketchy ones – those with medically unsafe or plagiarized content (Wikipedia, anyone?) or unstable platforms prone to crashing or security breaches. They also excluded apps designed for healthcare professionals, men, pregnant women, apps not available in English, and those that required additional purchase of expensive equipment.

With the field narrowed to just 17 paid and 15 free apps, the team got down to business – independently testing, evaluating, and ranking each app. Although their primary concern was medical accuracy, their report includes an exhaustive list of features like price, ease of navigation, privacy settings, connectivity and tech support, and more.

I’ll reveal their top ten apps (plus a bonus) in a minute – but first, here are a few of their takeaways to guide your own research. Number two might surprise you.

Expertise matters most. A full 100% of the apps developed by, or in conjunction with, medical providers contained accurate descriptions of the exercises. Only 50% of the apps developed without medical provider input were accurate.

You don’t always get what you pay for. It’s no surprise to anyone who has ever used a smartphone that quality and accuracy varied widely between the apps. But quality differences ran the gamut in both paid and free apps.

But a little bit of money goes a long way. The paid apps were predictably loaded with special features; but the top four the researchers noted were extra privacy features, more images and figures, increased availability of tech support, and multiple reminder settings. Of course, none of the paid apps featured advertisements; and with prices ranging from just 99 cents to $5.99, the absence of those annoying pop-ups might be well worth the investment.

The customer is… often right. Although they didn’t include a direct comparison in their study, the researchers did note that all their top picks also received high ratings on Google and iTunes from actual users.

And the winner is…

The team’s top picks in both the free and paid categories were Kegel Trainer and Kegel Trainer Pro, by Olsen Applications, Ltd. Each version received their top scores – 12 of a possible 15 points.

In second place – it’s a four-way tie in the free app category, and a five-way tie in the paid app category. Each of the apps below received 11 of a possible 15 points. (Remaining apps in both categories scored in the 6-10 point range.)

Free Apps

  • Kegel Aerobics (Coach On The Spot Productions)
  • Kegeltunes (OriCo/Don O’riodan)
  • My PFF (SCA)
  • TAT (UMEA University)

Paid Apps

  • Kegel Talent Pro (Yunyu53)*
  • Kegeltunes Pro (OriCo/Don O’riodan)*
  • KPFE Pro (Joseph Williamson)*
  • Pelvic Floor And Kegel Exercises (Karen Barton)
  • Squeezy (Propagator, Ltd.)

    *Free versions also received high scores

Which of these apps – if any – is right for you? That’s a personal decision; I don’t make treatment recommendations without an individual assessment. In fact, no medical app can duplicate the expertise of a qualified health care professional, and embarking on any exercise regimen without a medical assessment can do more harm than good. If you want to get the most out of a pelvic floor app – and especially if you’re suffering from pelvic pain or sexual dysfunction – schedule a consult with a Femina women’s health physical therapist today.

Reference

Barnes K., Dunivan G., Jaramillo-Huff A., et al 2019. Evaluation Of Smartphone Pelvic Floor Exercise Applications Using Standardized Scoring System. Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery  25:4  328-35.

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