Share this news

Use of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) Benefits Neurorehabilitation Research and Patient Care

Guidelines and limitations reported in NeuroRehabilitation

February 25, 2015
Use of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) has increased significantly over the last decade. The current issue of NeuroRehabilitation features a series of insightful articles that provide examples of how the ICF can be successfully implemented in clinical practice and research related to neurorehabilitation, ultimately benefiting patient care.

ICF was endorsed by the 54th World Health Assembly for international use in May 2001 after two decades of systematic field trials and international consultation. It serves as a framework for the description of health and disability states, much as the ICD-10 (International Classification of Diseases) does for disorders, injuries, and diseases.

The multipurpose classification has become a valuable tool that: 

  • Provides a scientific basis for understanding and studying health and health-related states, outcomes and determinants
  • Establishes a common language for describing health and health-related states in order to improve communication among different users, such as health care workers, researchers, policy-makers, and the public, including people with disabilities
  • Permits comparison of data across countries, health care disciplines, services, and time
  • Provides a systematic coding scheme for health information systems

According to Guest Editors Professor Jan Lexell, MD, PhD, and Associate Professor Christina Brogårdh, RPT, PhD, both at the Department of Health Sciences at Lund University and the Department of Neurology and Rehabilitation Medicine at Skåne University Hospital, Lund, Sweden, ICF has become a valuable tool to increase communication between different users, help clinicians to classify the consequences of a disease or disability, and to plan and evaluate different interventions as of the rehabilitation process. “It is our hope that these articles will broaden and deepen our knowledge of ICF and may serve as an inspiration for clinicians and researchers in their ambition to develop the use of ICF and for future research.”

This thematic issue provides explicit examples of how the ICF can be applied within neurorehabilitation and how the ICF can expand our knowledge of the possibilities that lie within this framework. The articles also highlight certain limitations and challenges with ICF and the need for future research. The authors are all experienced in the area of ICF and have contributed to the knowledge transfer in different disciplines.

Articles in the issue discuss the use of ICF in rehabilitation plans, how it can be used to collect data on the extent of disabilities, and where it can be used to help rehabilitate youths with cerebral palsy. Other contributions are concerned with real-world examples of implementing the ICF for stroke patients and those with traumatic brain injury, and how differences regarding understanding of the concepts of activities and participation in the ICF may confuse communication rather than facilitate it.

 #  #  #


Full text of the articles is available to credentialed journalists.  Contact Daphne Watrin, IOS Press, at +31 20 688 3355 or to obtain full text of the articles listed below. Journalists wishing to request interviews with authors should contact Professor Jan Lexell, MD, PhD, Department of Health Sciences at Lund University and Department of Neurology and Rehabilitation Medicine at Skåne University Hospital, Lund, Sweden, at +46 46 222 1991 or

Special Feature: ICF and Neurorehabilitation

NeuroRehabilitation: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Volume 36, Issue 1 (February 2015)

Guest Editors: Jan Lexell, MD, PhD, and Christina Brogårdh, RPT, PhD, Department of Health Sciences, Lund University, Sweden, and Department of Neurology and Rehabilitation Medicine, Skåne University Hospital, Lund, Sweden

Featured Articles:

Editorial – “ICF and Neurorehabilitation,” Christina Brogårdh and Jan Lexell

“The Use of ICF in the Neurorehabilitation Process,” Jan Lexell and Christina Brogårdh

“Engaging with Clinicians to Implement and Evaluate the ICF in Neurorehabilitation Practice,” Stephanie Tempest and Richard Jefferson

“The ICF as a Framework to Collect and Interpret Data on the Extent and Variety of Disability in Neurological Conditions,” A Raggi, M Leonardi, V Covelli, D Sattin, C Scaratti, S Schiavolin, M Willems and P Meucci

“Determinants of Disability Using Count-Based Approaches to ICF-Based Definition of Neurological Disability,” A. Raggi, V. Covelli, M. Leonardi, P. Meucci, C. Scaratti, S. Schiavolin, M. Willems and D. Sattin

“Pediatric Neurorehabilitation and the ICF,” Andrea Martinuzzi, Gianni De Polo, Sonia Bortolot and Monica Pradal

“Rehabilitation of Traumatic Brain Injury in the Light of the ICF,” Sara Laxe, Alarcos Cieza and Beatriz Castaño-Monsalve

“How Are the Activity and Participation Aspects of the ICF Used? Examples from Studies of People with Intellectual Disability,” Patrik Arvidsson, Mats Granlund and Mikael Thyberg


NeuroRehabilitation; An Interdisciplinary Journal is an international journal that emphasizes publication of scientifically based, practical information relevant to all aspects of neurologic rehabilitation.  Founded in 1991, it features peer-reviewed articles that are interdisciplinary in nature and cover the full life span and range of neurological disabilities including stroke, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, neuromuscular disease, and other neurological disorders.  Information is intended for an interdisciplinary audience.  Issues of the journal are thematically organized.  Themes have focused on specific clinical disorders, types of therapy, and age groups.  


Commencing its publishing activities in 1987, IOS Press serves the information needs of scientific and medical communities worldwide. IOS Press now (co-)publishes over 100 international journals and about 90 book titles each year on subjects ranging from computer sciences and mathematics to medicine and the natural sciences.

IOS Press continues its rapid growth, embracing new technologies for the timely dissemination of information. All journals are available electronically and an e-book platform was launched in 2005.

Headquartered in Amsterdam with satellite offices in the USA, Germany, India and China, IOS Press has established several strategic co-publishing initiatives. Notable acquisitions included Delft University Press in 2005 and Millpress Science Publishers in 2008.

Daphne Watrin

IOS Press
Tel: +31 20 688 3355