Clinical Ai Chi | Clinical Ai Chi and the ICF System
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Clinical Ai Chi and the ICF System

When the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF)6 is used as the classification with neuro-musculoskeletal and mobility reference, we can relate the following ICF subcategories to Clinical Ai Chi. (Table 1)


Function level: domain b7 Neuromusculoskeletal and movement related functions Actvity level: domain d4Mobility
710 mobility of joint functions715 stability of joint functions720 mobility of bone functions (scapula)730 muscle power755 involuntary movement reaction functions7602 coordination of voluntary movement

7603 supportive functions of the legs

7800 sensation of muscular stiffness

7801 sensation of muscle spasm

4106 shifting the body’s the center of gravity4154 maintaining a standing position4452 use of arms: reaching


Being able to maintain an erect body position while at the same time shifting the center of gravity within the limits of stability (while using the arms for a non-supportive task) is a basic skill in postural control called balancing.7 When a client has difficulties with this skill, the chance to lose balance increases. The characteristics of Ai Chi at the level of activity of ICF show a clear relationship with postural control. Therefore we choose to focus on this topic in relation to fall prevention.

At the level of function, prerequisites for a proper postural can be found like sufficient joint and muscle function. A connecting factor between categories like mobility, stability, muscle power and voluntary coordination is the functional and structural integrity of connective tissue. It needs a certain strength in combination with a certain length.8,9 Ai Chi focuses on movement without force, which means that at the level of function of ICF the main focus will be mobility.

Relevant references:

6 World Health Organisation (2001). International Classification of Functoning, Disability and Health. WHO press: Geneva.
7 Bronstein AM, Brandt T, Woollacott MH, Nutt JG. (2004). Clinical disorders of balance, posture and gait. Arnold: London.
8 Mueller MJ, Maluf KS. Tissue adaptation to physical stress: a proposed “physical stress theory” to guide physical therapy practice, education, and research. Phys Ther. 2002;82(4):383-403.
9 Morree de JJ. Dynamiek van het menselijk bindweefsel. (2008). Houten: Bohn Stafleu van Loghum.

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