BACKGROUND: Joint rehabilitation goals are an important component for effective teamwork in the rehabilitation
field. The activities and participation domain of the ICF provides a common language for professionals when
setting these goals. Involving clients in the formulation of rehabilitation goals is gaining momentum as part of a
person-centred approach to rehabilitation. However, this is particularly difficult when clients have an acquired
communication disability. The expressive communication difficulties negatively affect the consensus building
process. As a result, obtaining information regarding rehabilitation goals from professionals and their clients
warrants further investigation for this particular population.
METHODS: This comparative study investigated clients and their assigned rehabilitation professionals’ perception of
the importance of ICF activities and participation domains for inclusion in their rehabilitation program. Twelve
clients in an acute rehabilitation centre and twenty of their corresponding rehabilitation professionals participated
in an activity using the Talking Mats™ visual framework for goal setting. Each participant rated the importance of
the nine activities and participation domains of the ICF for inclusion in their current rehabilitation program.
RESULTS: The ICF domains which consistently appear as very important across these groups are mobility, self-care
and communication. Domains which consistently appear in the lower third of the rankings include spare time,
learning and thinking and domestic life. Results indicate however that no statistical significant differences exist in
terms of the individual domains across each of the participant groups. Within group differences however indicated
that amongst the speech-language therapists and physiotherapists there was a statistical significant difference
between spare time activities and communication and mobility.
CONCLUSIONS: Findings indicate that consensus is possible amongst professionals and clients even within an acuterehabilitation
setting. In addition, the Talking Mats™ visual framework appears to be a valid protocol for including
clients with acquired communication disabilities in the process of obtaining consensus during goal-setting.