The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) has joined the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Confederation for Physical Therapy, the American Therapeutic Recreation Association, and other international organizations in endorsing the WHO International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF) model.

APTA's House of Delegates voted unanimously during its annual meeting, June 9-11 in San Antonio, Texas, to endorse the model, which puts the concepts of "health" and "disability" in a new light. The model acknowledges that every human being can experience some level of "disability" and views functioning and disability as an interaction between health, the environment, personal and social factors. The ICF includes a "robust and rich taxonomy that describes, rather than classifies, individuals according to their functioning and provides a standard language that includes positive and negative aspects of functioning."

"Physical therapists understand that the term 'disability' means different things to different patients," commented APTA President R Scott Ward, PT, PhD. "As we know, what might seem like a relatively minor condition to a patient who is economically secure and has strong support from family and friends can feel like a devastating and life-altering circumstance to a person with little financial or social support. The ICF model allows physical therapists and other health care providers to more accurately record and consider the many factors that contribute to a patient's treatment and recovery."

As a result of the House of Delegates' action, ICF language will be incorporated into all relevant association publications, documents, and communications through existing planned review and revision cycles.

Physical therapists are health care professionals who diagnose and manage individuals of all ages who have medical problems or other health-related conditions that limit their abilities to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives. Physical therapists examine each individual and develop a plan of care using treatment techniques to promote the ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability. Physical therapists also work with individuals to prevent the loss of mobility by developing fitness- and wellness-oriented programs for healthier and more active lifestyles.

APTA is a national organization representing physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students nationwide. Its goal is to foster advancements in physical therapist education, practice, and research. Consumers can access "Find a PT" to find a physical therapist in their area, as well as physical therapy news and information at

For more information about ICF, go to

American Physical Therapy Association