Types of physical disability (and characteristics)

Look around you. The entrance to your house or a public building, the streets, public transport such as buses and the metro … all this was thought out in front of a majority of the population able to move, Perceive and interact with the environment of a normative.

Nevertheless there is a part of citizenship which, for several reasons, does not have the same capacities, being its limited options. This part corresponds to those who suffer from some type of physical, mental or sensory handicap. Disability is a barrier for many people, who see their life as limited.

In the case of a physical handicap, these barriers are sometimes literal, the freedom of movement being severely restricted. That is why exploring the different types of physical disabilities can be a way to understand the needs of people with them and to facilitate adaptation to the environment.

    Impairment and handicap: distinguishing the concepts

    There is great diversity in the abilities and skills of the different individuals who make up society. We may have more or less height, light or brown eyes, or skin of a different color. There are also people with more artistic sensitivity than another, or with more mathematical ability.

    Some people can see very well at long distance, while others have a much better sense of hearing than others. These differences between us do not prevent us from living more or less similar lives, from having or having the same opportunities to develop and seek our happiness and that of others as we grow and participate in the world.

    However, for some people it is much more complicated due to the existence of a deficiency. Some of them have a different physical or mental configuration than usual, Some of them being affected or not functioning to the same degree as what is usual in the individual himself or in relation to the rest.

    These deficiencies can cause the sufferer to suffer from a disability, if the characteristics of their condition limit or prevent the person from performing one or more of the daily activities in a normative manner. This doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to do the same things, but it does mean that you will need supports or pathways that take into account your difficulties.

    like that, while deficiency is that organ or aspect that is not functioning properly, disability is what cannot or costs more to cause due to this dysfunction. In this case, the physical handicap, the functionality affected is movement.

    Concept of physical disability

    By physical disability we mean that situation or state in which a circumstance arises which prevents or makes it difficult to a large extent for the person who suffers from it to be able to move freely and in a way which allows him to have all his functions. This type of disability affects the musculoskeletal system, being particularly noticeable in the case of the limbs, although it can affect the skeletal muscles so that they cannot be moved on purpose.

    The limitations present in people with physical disabilities therefore make it very difficult to lead a normal life unless they benefit from certain external aids. These limitations can be permanent or temporary, depending on the deficiency being treated. which causes them or grants sufficient aid so that there is no reduction in functionality.

    The most frequent causes

    There are various reasons why a person can have a physical disability. However, as a general rule, we can consider that the deficiencies causing the handicap are most often due to a problem or to a lesion either of the muscles, or of the nervous system (or at the level of the nerves innervating the areas in question, spine level). cord or at some point in the motor cortex).

    Some of the causes of these injuries can be found in suffering from diseases such as multiple sclerosis, tumors, infections or inflammation of muscles or nerve tissues or trauma of various types. Some birth defects, such as spina bifida, also cause cases of physical disability.

    Classification of physical disability

    As we have said, the reasons why a person may have a physical disability are many and varied. When classifying the different types of physical disability, either these causes or areas that have hindered or limited movement or causes are usually taken into account.

    So, we can see that in general the types of physical disability will be as follows.

    Type according to its cause

    • Engines with or without brain damage

    • Due to illness

    • Mixed

    Type according to the affected area

    • Motor disability of the lower limbs

    • Motor disability of the upper limbs, trunk, neck and face

    • Other motor disabilities

    Some of the main types of physical disability

    Understanding of the subject, the different classes of physical disability are as follows.


    Single limb paralysisUsually caused by damage to the nerve innervating the area in question.

    2. Paraplegia

    This condition due to spinal cord injury in the dorsal region involves paralysis or an inability to move the lower half of the body. It mainly affects the legs and feet. The subject loses the ability to walk. This may or may not affect the ability to respond sexually.

    3. Tetraplegia

    Alteration due to injury to the cervical spinal cord, the repercussion is observed in the total loss of the ability to move the lower limbs and total or partial loss of the ability to move the upper limbs.

    Depending on the position of the injury, the difficulties will be greater or lesser, usually involving greater affectation and handicap associated with this damage in the vertebrae closest to the skull. In fact, this can lead to the need to use artificial ventilators in order to maintain the patient’s breathing.

    4. Hemiplegia

    It is an alteration or injury to the nervous system that produces paralysis of the part opposite or contralateral to the injured person. It is usually due to a stroke or head trauma.

    4. Spina bifida

    It is a type of birth defect in which the neural tube and spine do not completely close during fetal formation, causing damage to the nerves and spinal cord which they can hinder or interfere with the person’s movements.

    5. Muscular dystrophy

    The group of disorders included in muscular dystrophy they cause the presence of low muscle tone which loses tissue over time, Make movement difficult and cause handicap. It is one of the most common types of physical disability.

    6. Cerebral palsy

    Cerebral palsy is a chronic disease caused by problems during the brain development of the fetus or child, which produces severe effects on motor skills. These effects can range from difficulty and slowness of movement to stiffness, restlessness, seizures or even complete paralysis of the voluntary musculature.

    7. Amputation

    Loss of limbs or body parts they can cause physical disability by limiting the person’s normal functioning.

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