The Physical Abilities and Mobility Scale: A Gross Motor Functional Outcome Measure - A Perspective from the UK and the US



Heather McLean


Heather McLean
Gemma Kelly



Objective: To demonstrate the use of the Physical Abilities and Mobility Scale (PAMS) as an effective tool to assess functional change, tolerance to positioning and equipment, and the burden of care for children with brain injury during an inpatient rehabilitation stay.

Description: Following pediatric brain injury, goals of physical therapy may include tolerance of positioning and equipment, improved postural control and balance, and improved mobility. Classically, therapists use such as the gross motor function measure (GMFM), The Functional Independence Measure for Children (WeeFIM II TM), or The Pediatric Evaluation of Disability Inventory (PEDI) to assess children’s activity and function and monitor their progress during rehabilitation. However, these measures are often not sensitive enough to show change in some children with severe brain injury on mobility items throughout the course of their rehabilitation stay. Furthermore, they do not measure progress children can make in terms of increases tolerance to handling or positioning, and/or reducing the level of caregiver assistance required, which can be important goals of physical therapy for children with severe physical difficulties.

The Physical Abilities and Mobility Scale is a quick and easy to administer 20 item measure, scored on a 1-5 scale, and designed to complement the WeeFIM IITM. For most items, the advancement in scoring from 1 to 5 describes expected progression of recovery of function after injury in areas ranging from head control to stairs and community skills. Other items assess level of caregiver assistance required for an activity or tolerance of passive activity such as wearing orthoses.

During this presentation, we will demonstrate:
• An overview of the PAMS including comparison to the WeeFIM, GMFM, and PEDI
• The use of the PAMS with children with brain injury who are receiving inpatient rehabilitation, including methods for administration and scoring
• Reliability and validity of the PAMS
• The use of the PAMS by the rehabilitation team to set goals and plan for discharge.

4 Measurable Learning Objectives:
1. Attendees will understand the differences between the PAMS and WeeFIM/GMFM/PEDI
2. Attendees will use and score the PAMS during a case study
3. Attendees will understand how to utilize the PAMS in clinical practice
4. Attendees will appreciate how the PAMS is clinically applicable compared with other gold standard outcome measures



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