Is the iPhone the best smartphone for my client?

There are die-hard fans for  iPhones, Android phones, Blackberry phones and Windows operating phones. The real question is “what are the needs of my client?” rather than “what is the best smartphone?”. Consider these solutions for 4 different clients:

Blackberry:  I had a client who had coordination difficulties with his left nondominant hand. His family had given him an iPhone as a memory aid, but he went back to his old Blackberry because his left hand kept accidentally touching the screen of his iPhone and it would launch apps when he was trying to do something else with his smartphone.  His old Blackberry did not have a touch screen, and he was more familiar with the device and its keypad.

Android Galaxy Note: Another client of mine had problems with vision and memory.  Initially I thought the iPhone4 would be the better choice (family member had an iPhone and would be helping out with teaching client to use the device) but the screen was too small for client’s vision difficulties and for his large fingers.  The Galaxy Note smartphone ended up being the solution (it has a 5.3″ screen compared to the iPhone4’s 3.5″ screen).

No device: Third client had difficulty with directional orientation, and would often get lost in her neighbourhood.  We started to consider using a smartphone or GPS device, but decided the client would be more at risk using the device as she had difficulty with divided attention.  When she was on her own, she was very aware of traffic and her environment.  If she was using a device, she was at risk to be looking at the device while crossing a street.  The client was able to learn strategies (keep her focus on her route and to ask for directions if she got off track) and was able to find her way in her neighbourhood without a smartphone.

Goals, Goals, Goals: My fourth client was from the days when Palm Pilots were the new technology.  He had difficulty with memory and completing tasks. He had done well following instructions on post-it notes, so we loaned him a Palm Pilot programmed with reminders for a weekend trial.  The next time I saw the client, his wife reported that he had hidden the Palm Pilot under a pillow.  I asked the client about this and was told ” I don’t want my wife telling me what to do, I don’t want no machine telling me what to do”.  This experience with my client reminded me that not only do I need to assess the needs of my client, but more importantly start first with the goals of my client!

One helpful resource I have found is www.TBIStaffTraining.info.  It is a website from Australia developed by the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit, Liverpool Hospital.  They have information on using smartphone applications for people with brain injuries.  Some of the information is specific to Australia but much of the information applies here too.

What resources have you found helpful?

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