If an apple a day really does keep the doctor away, Mike Muldoon can only imagine what a fun, user-friendly app could do.
Muldoon and his wife, Monica, both of whom are physical therapists from Hampton, have created two game-like applications for smartphones that they hope can revolutionize the way patients approach their well-being and interact with their doctors.
The apps, "Ustabilize" and "GetMyROM," are focused on allowing individuals to gauge their balance and range of motion, respectively, said Muldoon. Each is formatted like a competition so users can see how they perform when compared to their friends, although Muldoon said he and his wife have higher hopes about how it can change the way people take care of their bodies.
"A lot of people don’t look at their balance until they have an injury, like when an athlete blows an ACL or an elderly person fractures their hip," said Muldoon, 34, who has lived in Hampton since 2005 and practices physical therapy in offices across the state. "They may not know their balance baseline or their range of motion. What we’re doing is a game to quantify it and look at age-related norms."
The apps, which launched last June at the 2011 American Physical Therapy Association Conference, have "started to take off" and have a system built in that collects the biometric data recorded by using the games.
This biometric data is identical to the information recorded by physicians during exams, although Muldoon said the fact the patients can now record the information whenever they want really could help improve the overall quality of care throughout the country.
"There's built-in feedback between clinicians and patients," he said. "People are able to look and give data back to their physicians. When you have a knee replacement, there's a date when you should have a certain amount of range of motion. The app takes that data, and the provider can see if a patient is falling out of that category and schedule an intervention in a more timely manner."
Even if residents don't use it to gauge injury recovery, Muldoon said he hopes individuals can find one of the many preventative care benefits by incorporating it into their routines. One such way would be for a runner to use the Ustabilize app before and after a jog to see if their form or workout is having a positive or negative influence on their balance.
"What we really want to consistently do with it is put the tools in the hands of the consumers to give them interesting data on their health and provide a conduit to providers," said Muldoon, who set the Guinness world record for balancing on one foot with his arms extended while using his app.
Muldoon would "love" to make developing these and other health care apps a full-time career, and he said there are many physicians and throughout the country already using the product.
He said the hardest part was getting the product to market, let alone designing the mockups and framework for the software because of his limited computer background. There have been several interested investors, and Muldoon said he takes great pride in having come this far in developing a product that is "interesting" to other people — which he said is the key part of becoming an app creator.
"In many, many talks I’ve said it’s like finding somebody to build your dream home when they really have no concept what your dream home looks like," said Muldoon of the app-writing process. "It's a similar process to go through if you want to get a product at the end that you envisioned.
"It's interesting for my wife and I, as we've worked in the [medical] field for years. It's our passion, and we've been able to bounce ideas off each other. We have three children and a dog, and [the apps are] just something else we've produced and brought to the world to help make a difference."
Muldoon said he plans to continue to develop and enhance "Ustabilize" and "GetMyROM," as well as devise new medical apps. More information about Muldoon and the apps is available here.