What are the historical models that have influenced our current understanding of disability, functioning and impairment?
The ICF health framework has two broad areas: (1) Body Functions and Structures and (2) Activities and Participation. In the ICF the term ‘functioning' encompasses all body functions, activities and participation, and ‘disability’ describes impairments, activity limitations and restrictions on participation. Two major conceptual models of disability have been proposed under the ICF:
The medical model of disability views disability as a feature of the person, directly caused by disease, trauma or other health condition, which requires medical care provided in the form of individual treatment by professionals. Disability, on this model, calls for medical or other treatment or intervention, to 'correct' the problem with the individual.
The social model of disability, on the other hand, sees disability as a socially-created problem and less attributable to an individual. Advocates of the social model suggest the experience of disability requires political and societal responses, since the ‘problem’ of disability is created by a combination of unaccommodating physical environment and / or prevailing societal attitudes about people living with disability’s abilities, and other features of the social environment.
On their own, neither model is considered adequate, although both are partially valid. A more comprehensive model of disability is one that integrates the positive aspects of both the medical and social models, without making the mistake each makes in reducing the whole, complex notion of disability to one of its aspects.