Exploring the ICF as a Conceptual Framework

In Isaiah Berlin’s essay on The Hedgehog and the FoxThe fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.  It’s hard to be an organized fox, and being a hedgehog may limit innovation.  The conceptual framework of the ICF organizes all the details of one person’s function and edits that information down to the (few) big things which are vital and specific.

The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) is an example of a conceptual framework for describing and organizing information on functioning and disability.    A conceptual framework is generally defined as an analytical tool used to organize ideas. 

The ICF gathers details about an individual in order to give a specific understanding of their unique functioning.  The microscopic domain describes the tissues and functions of the body.  In contrast, the most macroscopic domain describes how a person successfully participates or has difficulty participating in their unique world.  The ICF, as a conceptual framework,  gives organization to a diverse array of details and shows relationships between the domains.

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Next in the ICF series:  Exploring the ICF: The Domains

Exploring the ICF: What is a Biopsychosocial Model?

The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF)is a framework for describing and organizing information on functioning and disability.  The ICF is described as a biopsychosocial model of disability.  Most simply and obviously, this means that it simultaneously considers biological factors, psychological factors and societal factors. By incorporating these three factors,  this model is able to create a unique picture of an individual as they manage a health condition.  In contrast, the biomedical model is limited to the biological aspects only.  The biomedical model often overlooks important individual details, increasing chances that the clinician and child’s family have lack of alignment in their goals. Continue reading “Exploring the ICF: What is a Biopsychosocial Model?”

What is the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF)?

Question: Why use the International Classification of Functioning, Disability & Health in pediatric PT?

Answer:  The framework of the ICF will help you access and organize your knowledge to provide a sound foundation for clinical decision making.

The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) is a framework for describing and organizing information on functioning, health and disability.  The ICF-CY is specific to children and youth.   In 2001, the World Health Organization adopted the ICF as the basis of standardized scientific data on health and disability for use throughout the world.  It is applicable in health fields from mental health to orthopedics, neurology to cardiology.  The Neuro-Developmental Treatment Association (NDT) immediately recognized its importance as a conceptual framework for applying the NDT concept to pediatric physical therapy and began to use the framework in eight-week pediatric courses.  Moving on in time,  in 2008, The American Physical Therapy Association publicly endorsed the use of the ICF.  This set the expectation that ICF language begin to be used in publications, documents and communication.  Already, participation and environmental factors were becoming common points of discussion in pediatric physical therapy.  In current time, therapists are learning that we must begin to use ICF terminology and the ICF framework in our daily practice and communication, but what is it and how does it work?  That is the tricky part.

I was first introduced to the ICF during a section at the 2001 NDTA Conference.  I immediately began to restructure the way I approached and thought about my more complicated clients.  I was a fairly new PT at that time and goodness knows I needed some help prioritizing.  Continue reading “What is the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF)?”