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Barriers to Using the ICF in Pediatric Physiotherapy

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According to the research findings, the literature describes various difficulties and challenges of using the ICF in pediatric physiotherapy. It is worth noting that the main challenges associated with using ICF in pediatric physiotherapy revolves around distinguishing between goals and interventions that are characterized by activity and participation components. For instance, some therapists have described an ‘ activity goal’ as one that assists in improving the mobility of children thus enabling them to be at par with their peers. Conversely, a section of therapists has argued that this is an instance of functional mobility that is best described through participation in activities that enhance peer relationships in school.

However, in most cases, numerous practicing therapists concentrate more on code system during learning sessions as they tend to believe that the codes are crucial in their practice. The WHO-ICF researcher developed a simple practical way to move the knowledge of ICF from theory into practice by designing a chart where the ICF components were represented by each treatment goal and intervention strategy listed. Therapists only put parenthesis beside their written goals and interventions where the ICF component of each goal and intervention strategy is represented.

Pediatric physiotherapists need to be comfortable with the ICF conceptual framework, terminology, and definitions to incorporating the framework into their clinical practice. Therapists should not use the coding structure but rather use the ICF framework as a conceptual model to document and guide their clinical decision making. In addition, therapists do not need to always distinguish between the components of activities and participation when identifying the component of goals, interventions and expected outcomes; there is the option of grouping these two components together.

With such deliberation, pediatric physiotherapists are expected to begin utilizing the ICF language during in-service presentations such as research literature review or discussions pertaining to goals and intervention options.

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