"Physical therapy is not a subspecialty of the medical profession and physical therapists are not medical doctors; we are a separate profession that provides a unique service that physicians are unable and untrained to provide."

Letter to the AMA from the APTA, Dec 2009

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Physical Therapist uses the ICF model for Decision-Making

This is the first physical therapy article (that I have seen) since the APTA adopted the International Classification of Functioning (ICF) framework in June 2008 that uses the framework for decision-making.

I've used the framework when it was called the International Classification of Disability, Impairments and Handicaps (ICDIH) since late 2007, when I started writing this blog on Physical Therapy Diagnosis.

I've found the process liberating.

I feel more able to help my patients and at the same time I feel less personal responsibility if those patients fail to improve with physical therapy.

I just take the measurements (impairments and abilities).

I find the link - the Physical Therapy Diagnosis.

The treatments are more or less routine.

Back to the article...

This case report by Kevin Helgeson, PT, DHSc describes the treatment of a 23-year old girl with a recurrent patellar dislocation. The measurements and treatments described in the article are pretty routine: exercise, patellar gides, proprioceptive training, etc.

What I found interesting, in the 'Discussion' was the authors' comments on their decision-making process.

"An important aspect of this evaluation process in the ability to reevaluate the interrelationships within the ICF framework and decisions made throughout the course of treatment. The choice of impaired patellofemoral joint stability as the primary impairment for the patient in this case report was re-evaluated through an assessment of the level of improvement of the patient's primary activity limitation. If she had not been making progress toward resolving the activity limitation in the first weeks of treatment, then reevaluation of the primary and secondary impairments would have been indicated."

I can use this in my practice.

We use the OPTIMAL scale. We use the OPTIMAL to write Bulletproof PT Notes for Medicare compliance.

For example, I follow-up with a patient using the OPTIMAL.

They are not making progress with walking long distances. Their goal is 2/5 OPTIMAL. I record their current score, 4/5 (lower scores are better).

Based on their failure to improve, I decide to change their plan of care and try again.

I have just demonstrated skilled physical therapy using my decision-making. The OPTIMAL was my tool and the ICF was my framework.

You can see more examples of skilled physical therapy using the OPTIMAL (and other tests) within the ICF framework. It's all Medicare compliant. It's called Bulletproof Physical Therapy Charts and Notes.

Free Tutorial

Get free stuff at BulletproofPT.com

Tim Richardson, PT owns a private practice at Medical Arts Rehabilitation, Inc in Palmetto, Florida. The clinic website is at MedicalArtsRehab.com.

Bulletproof Expert Systems: Clinical Decision Support for Physical Therapists in the Outpatient Setting is a manager's workbook with stories, checklists, charts, graphs, tables, and templates describing how you can use paper-based or computerized tools to improve your clinic's Medicare compliance, process adherence and patient outcomes.

Tim has implemented a computerized Clinical Decision Support (CDS) system in his clinic since 2006 that serves as a Reminder, Alerting, Prompting and Predicting CDS using evidence-based tests and measures.

Tim can be reached at
TimRichPT@BulletproofPT.com .

"Make Decisions like Doctors"

Copyright 2007-2010 by Tim Richardson, PT.
No reproduction without authorization.

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