Exploring the ICF-CY: What is Activity?


The International Classification of Functioning, Disability & Health- Children & Youth (ICF-CY) is a framework for describing and organizing information on functioning and disability.

In this post we explore another category of the ICF-CY….activity!  This is the heart and soul of physical therapy, at least in the clinic or during a home visit.  The activity section of the ICF-CY describes what a person can do in a standard environment or their regular environment.  Activity is defined as the execution of a task or action.    The activity section includes the following:

  • developmental skills that babies learn in the first year of life,
  • gross motor skills at any age
  • fine motor skills at any age
  • activities of daily living/self-care
  • gait
  • communication

A standardized test is convenient to have in this section.  For instance, I use the GMFM-66 for gross motor skill assessment.  There are 66 functional gross-motor activities on this test.  Any score of (3) indicates functional independence.  On the other hand, any score of (2) or less indicates that the child was not independent in the skill so it is a limitation in functional activity.  I take my goals directly from the functional limitations section.

  • Capacity refers to what a person can do in a standard or ideal environment (like the therapy gym).
  • Capability refers to a child’s capacity as influenced by environmental factors and choice.
  • Performance refers to what a person does in their regular environments. (Home, school, community)

Wondering about tests and measures that fit into the activity section of the ICF? Here are a few ideas

Next post in series:Exploring the ICF-CY: What is Participation?)

Author: spritelypt

Pediatric physical therapist

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