A new international study, from the Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy, takes input from PTs to develop a "core set" of criteria to guide evaluation and treatment, and create a new classification system for assessing functional status and disability for patients with osteoporosis.

The study used a three-step Delphi process to validate the comprehensive ICF Core Set for osteoporosis. A project of the World Health Organization, the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) is designed to provide a comprehensive understanding of patients’ functioning and health. The ICF Core Set uses an integrative biopsychosocial model of functioning and disability in various diseases to promote understanding and communication among health professionals involved in patient care and research.

Fifty-seven PTs in 25 countries provided input into patient problems, resources, and environmental factors affecting their work with osteoporosis patients. 

The results largely supported the previously developed ICF Core Set. However, the PTs identified several ICF concepts as important for inclusion in the osteoporosis Core Set. Several concepts fell into the category of Body Functions—including mental functions such as confidence, energy and motivation, which may affect how well patients follow recommended physical therapy treatments. 

The PTs targeted problems related to muscle tone, control, and coordination of voluntary movements. "Restoration of muscle balance using exercise therapy is a central task of physical therapists," said Barbara Koehler, PT, MPTSc, lead author of the study.

Some concepts identified as important by PTs—such as posture, alignment, and ergonomics—weren’t previously included in the ICF classification at all. These require further investigation, said researchers.

The findings provide input on what factors PTs deem important in maximizing function and reducing disability among their patients. When finalized, the ICF Core Set "can be used as a starting point in the assessment of osteoporosis, providing a common standardized language for all health professions," Koehler and colleagues said.

[Source: Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy via Medical News]