Barthel Index

Use the Barthel Index to determine the treatment plan of your patient struggling with ADLs!

Olivia Sayson
Olivia Sayson
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What is a Barthel Index?

is an awesome physical therapy tool that comes in the form of an ordinal scale. What it does is measure the performance of people with chronic illnesses or disabilities when it comes to Activities of Daily Living (ADL for short), which include:

  • Feeding
  • Bathing
  • Grooming
  • Dressing
  • Bowels
  • Bladder
  • Toilet Use
  • Transfers
  • Mobility
  • Stairs

This should be used to measure what the patient does in their current state, not what they could possibly do. Its ultimate aim, in the long run, is to help the patient get to a point where they can do ADLs independently, meaning they don’t receive help and don’t require supervision.

While that is the end goal, another aim of the Barthel Index is to help determine and create a tailor-fitted plan to help the patient’s needs based on the measurements recorded on the Index.

Printable Barthel Index

Download this Barthel Index in order to assess clients having difficulties with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs).

How to use the Barthel Index:

The Barthel Index is quite easy to use. Our version of the Barthel Index is available via this page, and can be accessed and downloaded as a PDF to store on your device.

The Index positions you as an observer and what you’ll have to do is to rate the patient’s capabilities for each ADL listed.

There’s a total of ten ADLs on the Index and all you have to do is rate them with 0, 5, or 10. Some ADLs only have two designated number ratings for them.

Also, these number ratings have designations specific to each ADL to help frame what you’re supposed to consider for each one.

Once you’re done scoring each ADL, the last thing you’ll need to do is add up all of them to make a total score. The highest score is 100. High scores mean that the patient is fully independent, or is independent when it comes to a good number of ADLs.

It is important to remember to store the completed Barthel Index securely to guarantee the privacy of the patient. We recommend using an electronic health records system for storage, as these platforms employ stringent measures of security and are HIPAA-compliant.

Barthel Index Example:

Here is a filled-out Barthel Index example, to help give you some insight into what the resource looks like when it has been completed.

Download this Barthel Index Example (Sample) here:

Barthel Index Example (Sample)

When would you typically use a Barthel Index?

The best time to use the Barthel Index is when you’re at the point in your sessions with your patient where you have to see how they go about their ADLs. This is so you can determine a suitable treatment plan that they will need, as well as possible actionable steps to help the patient improve their day-to-day functioning.

This can also be used during subsequent sessions to check and track any improvements, as well as determine what parts of the treatment they could drop or maintain.

Who can use the Barthel Index?

The following health practitioners can use this Barthel Index:

  • Physical therapists
  • Caregivers
  • Nurses

Anyone using this, as mentioned earlier, will act as an observer when the patient does their ADLs, whether independently or while being supervised.

In regard to patients who can respond to this assessment, the possibilities are dependent on the needs of the individual. If you are treating a client who is experiencing difficulties completing ADLs, then it will likely be useful to implement the Barthel Index. Additionally, some people may have experienced an injury or some kind of physical trauma, and the Barthel Index can be a useful tool for observing possible deterioration. 

What are the benefits of using the Barthel Index?

Aside from being helpful for therapists when it comes to gauging their patients’ capabilities and creating treatment plans, the Barthel Index may benefit the patient.

Results can be discussed with the patient. If the patient is still capable of improving, then discussing results might help inspire them to get better and hopefully become fully independent with some of their ADLs, ideally all of them.

The data that the Barthel Index produces also helps the patient visualize and understand the areas in their life where function has been reduced. Having access to this kind of information allows people to more accurately focus their time and effort of areas requiring improvement, hopefully leading to positive changes during the treatment process. 

Why use Carepatron for physical therapy software?

Here at Carepatron, we care about helping healthcare practitioners improve productivity and efficiency, especially when it comes to streamlining their clinical documentation. By taking advantage of our easy-to-navigate EHR system, you’ll gain access to a wide variety of physical therapy assessments such as the Barthel Index!

Using our assessments will help you with your counseling and make it easier for you and your clients to examine and understand their problems better. The Barthel Index is there to help you gauge your patient’s ADL capabilities as well as help you identify which ADLs require them to have support and what type of support they need.

You can even store these assessments in a HIPAA-compliant manner and secure them by setting up who can access these documents besides you.

Not only are our physical therapy software and worksheets intuitive, but they’re also easily accessible! Whether you’re using an office desktop, a laptop, or even just your phone, you can access your physical therapy assessments anytime, anywhere!

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Would it be safe to assume that the Barthel Index scoring is objective?
Would it be safe to assume that the Barthel Index scoring is objective?

Commonly asked questions

Would it be safe to assume that the Barthel Index scoring is objective?

An observer will be the one rating the patient and how they go about their ADLs. Given that, it is subjective. All the more if there is a different observer for the next round(s) of observations.

However, the Barthel Index does create a semblance of objectivity through the scores by way of their designations. They give physical therapists an idea of where the patient is currently at when it comes to their ADLs, and the scores can help determine what goes into the treatment plan they’re going to make for their patients.

When is it best to use the Barthel Index?

As soon as you need to. When you need to develop a treatment plan for your patient, you’re going to have to gauge their needs, so when you’re at that stage of your sessions with your patient, it’s best to use the assessment immediately.

How many times should this be used? Is it reliable to only use it once?

That depends on the patient, but more often than not, this is a tool that you will use every now and then during your treatment plan. It’s best to use this to track the progress of your patients, especially if they have exhibited the capability to try things independently, no matter how small the task.

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