Clinical Case Reporting in the Peer-Reviewed Physical Therapy Literature: Time to Move Toward Functioning

Physical therapists increasingly are contributing clinical case reports to the health literature, which form the basis for higher quality evidence that has been incorporated into clinical practice guidelines. Yet, few resources exist to assist physical therapists with the basic mechanics and quality standards of producing a clinical case report. This situation is further complicated by the absence of uniform standards for quality in case reporting. The importance of including a concise yet comprehensive description of patient functioning in all physical therapy case reports suggest the potential appropriateness of basing quality guidelines on the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Functioning Disability and Health (ICF) model. The purpose of this paper is to assist physical therapists in creating high-quality clinical case reports for the peer-reviewed literature using the ICF model as a guiding framework. Along these lines, current recommendations related to the basic mechanics of writing a successful clinical case report are reviewed, as well and a proposal for uniform clinical case reporting requirements is introduced with the aim to improve the quality and feasibility of clinical case reporting in physical therapy that are informed by the ICF model.