Introducing FINFUN: A Game-Changing Neurological Evaluation Tool for Canine Rehabilitation

by | Jun 29, 2023 | Small Animal Rehabilitation

In 2018, a group of clinicians and researchers published the FINFUN – the Finnish Neurological Function Testing Battery for Dogs. This testing battery allows us to be more objective in our neurological evaluations, providing an improved opportunity for communication and feedback between veterinary professionals and the primary caregivers – the owners. 


The FINFUN allows us to use a testing battery of relevant and functional tests to assess the level of impairment of canine patients with neurological diseases. The FINFUN can be used throughout rehabilitation to measure patient progression objectively and to communicate with owners and other veterinary professionals more clearly. 


Why do we need an objective evaluation tool for neuro patients? 

Most canine rehabilitation practices treat dogs with neurological diseases or deficiencies daily. Conditions such as intervertebral disc disease, fibrocartilaginous embolisms and degenerative myelopathies are everyday occurrences in rehabilitation practices. I used to say that between cruciate ruptures and IVDD, we had our bread and our butter in canine rehab – I could never decide which one was which 😊. 

What is more exciting is that rehabilitation is becoming a critical component of the treatment programmes for these patients from beginning to end, right throughout veterinary medicine. 

It is undeniable that rehabilitation has a profoundly positive effect on the outcome of these patients. However, we do not do a very good job of objectively measuring that progression of recovery in a validated, repeatable and relevant way. 

The FINFUN is reliable both inter- and intra-rater, relevant for neurological function, consistent and valid. It provides us with an opportunity to score the function and progression of our neuro patients. 

The result is better reliability, improved communication and trust between referring veterinarians and rehab therapists, improved owner involvement, and the opportunity to participate in multi-practice clinical research.  


Why was FINFUN developed? 

The FINFUN was developed as a neurological functional testing battery that can measure overall motor function in canine patients. The goal was to have a testing battery that would provide consistent, reproducible results regardless of the neurological disease of the patient. 

A testing battery that can be incorporated into rehabilitation practice needs to be cost-effective, convenient and time-efficient within a clinical setting. If we are to use a testing battery for research or in different practices, it also needs to be reliable when used by different users, repeatable for the same user, and reliable when measuring change over time. 


How was FINFUN developed? 

The testing battery was put together based on the human Motor Assessment Scale, the Basso Beattie Bresnahan (BBB) scale for SCI rats, the five stages of recovery from neurological disease in dogs, and the clinical experience of the research team. 

Once a testing battery was put together, a pilot study was run with 10 patients, which showed excellent intra and inter-rater reliability. The primary lecturer then used the FINFUN in clinical practice, making some adjustments made based on experience and critical reflection. 

Thereafter, a full-size research investigation was performed with seven observers comprising both experienced and inexperienced human physios specialising in animal rehabilitation. In total, 26 dogs were used in the full-scale investigation on the validity of the FINFUN. 

In the publication, Development of the Finnish neurological function testing battery for dogs and its intra- and inter‑rater reliability, by Anna Boström, Heli Hyytiäinen, Petteri Koho, Sigitas Cizinauskas and Anna Hielm‑Bjorkman, it was concluded that the FINFUN meets the demands for an objective, valid and reliable tool for the evaluation of motor function in dogs recovering from SCI, within veterinary rehabilitation. 


What is measured in the FINFUN? 

The FINFUN measures 11 functional tasks of progressive difficulty, as follows: 

  • lying 
  • standing from lying
  • sitting
  • standing from sitting
  • standing
  • proprioceptive positioning in affected limbs
  • start to walk from standing
  • walking 
  • running 
  • walking turns
  • walking stairs

The patient is given a score from 0 to 4 for each activity. To ensure that measurements are performed consistently, each task is described thoroughly and criteria for each task are specified within the test. 

There is also the opportunity to include comments on each activity. The entire test takes about 15 minutes to perform, and can easily be incorporated into clinical practice. 


My convictions 

I am fully and without a doubt convicted that to move our industry forward, we must incorporate objective outcome measures into our rehabilitation evaluations, follow-ups and communications with other members of the rehabilitation team, including owners and referring veterinarians. 

Testing batteries such as the FINFUN, together with clinical metrology instruments such as the CBPI, HCPI, LOAD and CODI, allow us to do exactly this. They are also highly relevant to our rehabilitation and the function and progression of our patients, and have no additional cost or time implications for our practices. All they require is that we update our systems to include them. 


To learn more about how FINFUN was developed, read the full research article, or watch the Research Refresh in the Onlinepethealth Small Animal Membership. 

If you would like to incorporate FINFUN into your practice, Anna Bostrom and her team have made this testing battery, together with the research that led to it, open access. You can download the complete testing battery here. 



Additional resources

  1. Mastering the Multidisciplinary Team Approach, with Gillian Tabor and Yogi Sharp
    1. Your Onlinepethealth membership
    2. Facebook
  2. Preparing your Clinic for Objective Data Collection, with Nicole Rombach
    1. Your Onlinepethealth Membership
    2. Facebook
  3. Doing Research while in Clinical Practice, with Kirsten Häusler, Nicole Rombach, David Marlin
    1. Your Onlinepethealth Membership
    2. Facebook
  4. Achieving Unity among Veterinary Rehabilitation Professionals, with Amie Hesbach, May Romer
    1. Your Onlinepethealth Membership
    2. Facebook
  5. Why do Research in Clinical Practice, with Chris Zink
    1. Your Onlinepethealth Membership
    2. Facebook




Watch our interview with Anna Bostrom on the FINFUN 


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