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Types of Physical Disabilities

There are numerous types of physical disabilities and it is imperative to understand each one, when interacting with someone known to have a disabling condition. It is a mistake to treat all people with physical disabilities as if they have the same condition. Everyone is an individual and even multiple people with the same physical disability may have varying degrees of the condition, therefore they may also have varying levels of interaction with other. The causes of physical disabilities are also varied. Some physical disabilities are the result of injury while others may be congenital conditions. Not every circumstance of physical disability has a known cause. The types of physical disabilities are extremely varied and run the gamut. Here are some of the most common physical disabilities encountered in society.

Acquired Brain Injury

There are several types of brain injury, but in acquired brain injury, the indication is that the brain was traumatized at some point after birth. Acquired brain injury may be the result of head injuries, concussions, stroke, infections in the brain, exposure to poisonous or toxic substances, and the lack of oxygen. Acquired brain injury may result in a number of different physical disabilities in addition to other problems. As the brain is the central functioning unit for the body, those with acquired brain injury may suffer from problems with their senses, cognitive reasoning and memory, depression, anger or aggressiveness, and more. The severity of the symptoms correlates to the severity of the brain injury. Physical disabilities may vary based upon the severity of the brain injury. Possible physical disabilities associated with acquired brain injury include loss of use of the limbs, paralysis, difficulty walking, and difficulty speaking.


Amputation is the process in which a body part is removed or severed from the body. It may result as a form of medical intervention or as a surgical procedure, or it may occur during a traumatic incident. In some situations, an amputation may result from a congenital condition or disorder. This was the case with the famous MLB pitcher Jim Abbott, who was born missing one hand. Those who deal with amputations must learn to accommodate for the various physical disabilities they face. In some cases, an amputee overcomes various challenges by overcompensating for it in other areas. For instance, someone who loses their arms may use their legs and feet to perform tasks often performed with the hands. In some cases, prosthetic devices are used to assist a person who has been hindered due to amputation.

Cerebral Palsy

There is no one cause of cerebral palsy, which describes a condition that occurs during the brain and results in a lack of the brain’s ability to control muscle coordination and bodily movements. Cerebral palsy may occur in the womb, during birth or as a traumatic brain injury after birth. There is no cure for Cerebral palsy as it is not a progressive condition, but rather a permanent state that occurs due to brain injury. Though there is no cure, there are effective therapies that may be used to help each individual diagnosed with Cerebral palsy experience the best quality of life possible.

Muscular Dystrophy

Muscular dystrophy is a physical disability that affects the musculoskeletal system of the human body. There are several forms of Muscular dystrophy (MD) including Becker (BMD), Limb-Girdle (LGMD), Duchenne (DMD), Emery-Dreyfus (EDMD), Facioscapulohumeral (FSHD, FSH), Congenital (CMD), Distal (DD), Myotonic (MMD), and Oculopharyngeal (OPMD). MD affects muscle cells and reduces strength causing them to become weakened or to waste away. More cases of MD affect boys more than girls. There is no known cure for Muscular dystrophy, but there are therapies that can help improve or maintain muscle tone. Muscular dystrophy may cause numerous physical disabilities making it imperative that those who have the disease receive the best care possible.

Parkinson’s disease

A degenerative disease that targets the central nervous system, Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder that leads to extreme physical disabilities. The cause of Parkinson’s disease is unknown, but it has been shown that the source comes from the death of dopamine making cells located within the brain. Some of the symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease include difficulty walking and with coordination, trouble speaking and tremors. No two cases of Parkinson’s are the same and the degree of disability varies from individual to the next. Those diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease must ensure they receive a course of treatment tailored to his or her individual needs. There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but treatments are available that may lessen the severity of symptoms.


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