Content » Vol 39, Issue 4

The international classification of functioning, disability and health: A unifying model for the conceptualdescription of physical and rehabilitation medicine

Gerold Stucki and John Melvin
DOI: 10.2340/16501977-0044


There is a need to develop a contemporary and internationally accepted conceptual description of physical and rehabilitation medicine (PRM). The process of evolving such a definition can now rely on the unifying conceptual model and taxonomy of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) and an ICF-based conceptual description of rehabilitation understood as a health strategy. The PRM section of the European Union of Medical Specialists (UEMS) has endorsed the application of the ICF as a unifying conceptual model for PRM and supports the process of moving towards an “ICF-based conceptual description and according definitions of PRM”. With this goal in mind, the authors have developed a first tentative conceptual description in co-operation with the professional practice committee of the UEMS-PRM-section. A respective brief definition describes PRM as the medical specialty that, based on the assessment of functioning and including the diagnosis and treatment of health conditions, performs, applies and co-ordinates biomedical and engineering and a wide range of other interventions with the goal of optimizing functioning of people experiencing or likely to experience disability. Readers of the Journal of Rehabili­tation Medicine are invited to contribute to the process of achieving an internationally accepted ICF-based conceptual description of PRM by submitting commentaries to the Editor of this journal.

Lay Abstract


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