ICF: Clinical relevance for physiotherapy? A critical review

Lara Allet; Elisabeth Burge; Dominique Monnin

The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) holds great promise for providing the rehabilitation disciplines with a universal language. However, the ICF is still highly complex and questions remain about its practicability. The aims of this review were to (i) identify how the ICF is integrated in the clinical activity of physiotherapists, (ii) discuss advantages and limits of the use of the ICF, and (iii) suggest further possibilities for implementing the ICF by physiotherapists. Of 155 identified articles, 22 were specific to physiotherapy. These articles described the utility of the ICF to facilitate decision-making for physiotherapists; to classify the evaluation of therapy outcomes; to ensure that all aspects of human functioning are represented while testing the effectiveness and the reliability of these outcomes; to structure the documentation of assessments and interventions, as well as to ameliorate the communication.

ICF has a clinical relevance for physiotherapists, although the limited reliability of the qualifier system for the feasibility of its implementation was shown. The authors emphasize that the ICF is a tool that facilitates the decision of what to measure but not how to measure.

Advances in Physiotherapy, 2008, 10(3), 127-137

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