[Development of a smartphone app for neuromuscular facial training. German Version].HNO. 2020 Jun 03 [Online ahead of print]HNO
Several studies have demonstrated a significant benefit of neuromuscular facial training in the rehabilitation of patients with facial palsy. However, printed instructions for home training are often not of optimum quality and associated with low adherence to therapy. Professional guidance, e.g., by occupational therapists, is regarded as being of high quality, but is associated with a high cost burden, particularly in chronic forms of disease.
The idea to develop a smartphone app for facial training arose from the above-described situation. The aim was to provide structured exercises for the mimic muscles in the sense of neuromuscular training with visual feedback via the front camera of the device.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
A native app architecture in iOS was chosen to implement the graphical and content-related concept. In the Apple Xcode (Apple, Cupertino, California, US) development environment, the app's code was written in the Swift programming language (Apple) and the graphical user interface was created.
An app prototype was implemented that provides step-by-step instructions on selected mimic exercises via animated smileys. The duration and speed of the exercise can be varied within a limited range. In the development environment, the correct functionality of both physical and virtual devices was successfully tested.
App-based facial training offers attractive opportunities to motivate patients for improved adherence to treatment, which could hypothetically lead to a better outcome. Evaluation of this question is planned in a clinical trial after completion of the development.