Measuring body structures and body functions from the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health perspective: considerations for biomedical parameters in spinal cord injury research

Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2011 Nov;90(11 Suppl 2):S50-65. doi: 10.1097/PHM.0b013e318230fb3b.


Objective: The aims of this study were to provide a selection of biomedical domains based on the comprehensive International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF) core sets for spinal cord injury (SCI) and to present an overview of the corresponding measurement instruments.

Design: Based on the Biomedical Domain Set, the SCI literature, the International Spinal Cord Society international data sets, and the Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Evidence project publications were used to derive category specifications for use in SCI research. Expert opinion was used to derive a priority selection. The same sources were used to determine candidate measurement instruments for the specification of body functions and body structures using an example, and guiding principles were applied to select the most appropriate biomedical measurement instrument(s) for use in an SCI research project.

Results: Literature searches were performed for 41 second-level ICF body functions categories and for four second-level ICF body structures categories. For some of these categories, only a few candidate measurement instruments were found with limited variation in the type of measurement instruments.

Conclusions: An ICF-based measurement set for biomedical aspects of functioning with SCI was established. For some categories of the ICF core sets for SCI, there is a need to develop measurement instruments.

MeSH terms

  • Disability Evaluation*
  • Disabled Persons / classification*
  • Health Status Indicators*
  • Humans
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care / methods
  • Spinal Cord Injuries* / classification
  • Spinal Cord Injuries* / epidemiology
  • Spinal Cord Injuries* / rehabilitation