Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Physical Therapy (MPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Beverly Johnson


Outcome Assessment (Health Care)


Functional assessment in rehabilitation medicine is not a new concept. Functional assessment measures have, however, experienced increased usage. Health insurance companies and clinicians are now focusing on functional outcomes in addition to objective tests.

Certain measurement criteria must be satisfied before a measurement tool may be successfully implemented into the clinical setting. Variable standardization, reliability, and validity are necessary for accurate measurement. The term function, however, deals with many variables leading to definitional difficulty.

The purpose of the functional assessment is to describe, screen and assess, and monitor. Although many functional assessments are available for clinical use, most lack scientific rigor. Consequently, few reliability and validity studies have been completed. Therefore, a critical analysis of three common functional measurement scales was completed.

No scale demonstrated unequivocal superiority. Each scale has its own strengths and weaknesses. Scale selection depends on the clinical setting, the patient population, and the purpose for completing the assessment. Research in the area of definitional standardization, validity, and clinical feasibility is necessary to further substantiate the efficacy of functional assessment in rehabilitation medicine.