Beyond diagnosis: understanding the healthcare challenges of injured veterans through the application of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF)

Clin Neuropsychol. 2009 Nov;23(8):1416-32. doi: 10.1080/13854040903369425.


Psychiatric and neurological disorders brought about by exposure to combat can create serious obstacles to community reintegration. Effective therapeutic and rehabilitative methods designed to address disorders that arise from combat are available. Yet there continues to be a need to develop both a deeper understanding of veterans' needs and best-practice methods to alleviate distress and facilitate community participation. Awareness of these needs served as the catalyst for the International Conference on Behavioral Health and Traumatic Brain Injury and is the basis for developing numerous new programs and service refinements across government and non-government organizations. Despite advances, community reintegration remains a complicated endeavor for many veterans returning home who are experiencing traumatic brain- and stress-related disorders. Accurately conceptualizing and codifying symptoms and barriers to community participation, beyond impairment analysis and diagnostic inclusion, is necessary to guide treatment planning and inform programmatic refinements. The International Classification of Function, Disability and Health (ICF) offers a useful taxonomic tool that can assist in refining an understanding of the challenges confronting our returning veterans. In turn, resources can be appropriately allocated, and neuropsychological therapies and other rehabilitation interventions, which assist veterans to resume productive and satisfying lives, will more likely be developed and implemented.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Brain Injuries / classification*
  • Brain Injuries / diagnosis
  • Brain Injuries / rehabilitation
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Disabled Persons / classification*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand*
  • Humans
  • Recovery of Function
  • Social Support
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / classification*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / rehabilitation
  • United States
  • United States Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Veterans / classification*
  • Warfare