Pictured at the launch, from left, Ros Madden who led the writing group, Stefanus Snyman, Jennifer Jelsma and Catherine Sykes

WHO publishes new guide to international classification of functioning

The World Health Organization has published the first practical manual on how to use the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF). It will be an important guide for physical therapists around the world, according to Catherine Sykes, WCPT’s Professional Policy Consultant and a member of the WHO’s advisory group on the ICF. 

“The document will be useful for physical therapists applying the ICF in practice, research or administration,” she said. “The manual assumes basic knowledge of the classification but provides guidance and examples on how to apply it, based on the experience gained during the 12 years since the ICF was first published.”

The ICF is a standardised framework for organising and documenting information on functioning and disability. 

WCPT has encouraged the use of the ICF by physical therapists globally since 2003: the system allows the efficacy of physical therapy to be measured in terms of changes in people’s or populations’ functioning.

According to Catherine Sykes, the ICF has applications in monitoring global initiatives such as the United Nations convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, the global campaign on non-communicable diseases, the impact of activities on the WHO disability action plan, and the post 2015 development goals.

The new guide was launched in Beijing, at a meeting of the Functioning and Disability Reference Group. 

It can be downloaded at:

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