App review: FamilyPlug
★ ★ ★ ★
This is the first communication app dedicated to patients with severe physical disabilities and who are in an immobilised and semiconscious state. It allows the user's voice to reach the patient to help reduce feelings of isolation and encourage a support network.
Developed with patients and for patients, it aims to create a successful recovery through this emotional stimulation from family members. It was created after Formula 1 driver Jules Bianchi suffered a serious head injury, and the creators wanted a communication tool to allow friends and family to maintain contact with him in hospital.
Video and audio messages play automatically in full screen, allowing patients to receive constant support from their network in real time.
To protect patients from unwanted noises and when they are resting, incoming messages are only played at pre-selected times. Incoming messages are immediately deleted to preserve sender privacy.
Critical care nurses and nurses involved in neurological rehabilitation can help guide family members with the app to improve communication and interaction beyond visiting hours.
Reviewed by Layla Haidrani
Requires iOS 7.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Also available on Android.