Functional assessment scales?

Functional assessment scales are widely used in human medicine, not in veterinary medicine where there still are no validated functional scales to examine in an objective way the functional limitation in dogs.

There are some proposals for functional scales used with more or less consensus on various veterinary centres as it is the case of the Alameda East Veterinary Hospital (Colorado, USA) which was used as a tool the?Functional Questionnaire?[1]especially indicated for dogs senior or retirement homes. A protocol for evaluation of osteoarthritis in dogs comprising both the assessment of mobility and of the affected joint assessment was made in Argentina: inflammation, pain, range of mobility and crepitation. Also in the United States in the MASH hospital (Huntingtown, MD) used the C-FIM: Canine Functional Independence Measure © For Paws Rehabilitation. Various rehabilitation centers and veterinary hospitals use unpublished internal protocols.

In human medicine commonly used for the control of certain joints: Install, more global mobility estimations. Do Test? get up an go? to measure the degree of autonomy of individuals or Barthelamong many others [2]. These scales are validated, accepted by even used in forensic medicine and medical authorities.


A group of physiotherapists and Spanish veterinarians performed a functional knee elbow and hip rating scale, as these joints presenting more pathology.

The Bioarth scale is intended to be a practical tool to assess different functional problems affecting the joints, through an orderly and systematic scoring system.

This scale is not intended to replace any other procedure if not to be a valid tool that will help both in the initial assessment of the patient and on the valuation of its evolution over time


The evaluation of the functional limitation using this scale should be performed by a veterinarian or a physical therapist specializing in pets. The functional assessment is not always correlated with radiological signs. In physiotherapy the functional test is an essential parameter to know the State of the system osteoarticular and its evolution, along with a proper physical examination; the radiological examination and other techniques for diagnostic imaging are as the nameindicates additional tests.


This scale sets a scoring system (0-3) or 0-2 as appropriate for each of the 12 parameters to consider. After this evaluation can know the status of the three basic functional parameters: functional limitation, mobility articular and muscular atrophy. 

The first block is valued functional limitation of the joint that is affected by a scoring system that quantifies changes in posture, lameness and of resistance to the March and the game (points 5 and 6 can be answered directly by the owner). It is advisable to have a long flight of stairs to be able to check points 7 and 8.

In second paragraph is intended to assess joint mobility limitations, if there is loss in the degrees of flexion and extension of the joint study and if there is pain to conduct this assessment. Measurement of range of motion is carried out according to standard parameters[3].

To assess muscular atrophy will use palpation and a tape measure comparing the limb with the limb contralateral (as long as it is not affected), otherwise it would resort to the clinical experience.


Bioarth functional assessment scale was presented at the 4th international symposium on rehabilitation and physical therapy in veterinary medicine; Arnhem, The Netherlands.

[1] Millis D. et all. Canine Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy. Saunders. 2004

[2] Viel E. Physiotherapy diagnosis. Masson. 2004

[3] Jaegger G, Marcellin-Little DJ, Levine D: Reliability of goniometry in Labrador Retrievers.  

American Journal of Veterinary Research 63:979-986; 2002



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