7 Major Types of Physical Disabilities

Disabilities vary from behavioral or mental, intellectual or cognitive, learning, and physical or mobility disabilities. Physical disabilities, also known as mobility disabilities, are defined as any condition that affects an individual's body movement and control.

People with physical disabilities tend to have difficulties taking part in daily activities, including walking, standing, sitting, moving hands and arms, and controlling muscles. People can develop physical disabilities from inheritance, injury, illness, accident, or a medical condition's side effect. Some of the physical disabilities include cerebral palsy, stroke, spina bifida, arthritis, spinal cord injury, epilepsy, and muscular dystrophy. These are the major causes of physical disabilities and will be covered here.

  1. Cerebral Palsy

    Cerebral palsy is a physical disability resulting from injury to the developing brain during pregnancy, birth, or shortly after birth. But what causes this damage to the brain? Well, illnesses during pregnancy, premature birth, and meningitis in young children are the leading causes of cerebral palsy. When damage to the brain occurs, it causes motor function impairment, which further leads to movement and coordination problems. However, an individual with cerebral palsy may have other linked disabilities, including behavioral, intellectual, speech, and visual disabilities. With that said, individuals with cerebral palsy require different adaptive equipment and external support to carry out daily activities. The good news is that people with cerebral palsy can achieve greater control over movement if provided with an environment where they can learn and practice motor skills.

  2. Stroke

    Stroke is a type of physical disability resulting from bleeding in the brain or interruption of the central nervous system's blood supply. An individual with stroke experiences a sudden impairment of the sensory-motor function on one side of the body, or rather paralysis on one side of the body, making it difficult to carry out daily activities, including movements. People with a stroke can regain their independence after treatment but can continue to experience paralysis and weaknesses on the body's affected side. A walking crutch or wheelchair is required to enable individuals with stroke to move from one place to another. Ultimately, it is worth noting that individuals with a stroke can indulge in daily activities that do not require much movement as they can function with one side of their body.

  3. Spina Bifida

    Spina bifida is a type of physical disability, which occurs during pregnancy where there is incomplete closure of the bony encasement of the spinal cord, leaving the spinal nerves exposed. Spina bifida is known to cause paralysis of the lower part of the body, but this depends on the lesion's extent and level. A person with spina bifida can also experience weakness and, or sensory loss. Additionally, many individuals with spina bifida tend to lose control over their bowel and bladder. This type of disability requires a wheelchair or a pair of crutches to enable movements. Unfortunately, this disability has no known cause and has no cure; hence it is a life-long disability.

  4. Arthritis

    Arthritis is a physical disability that causes inflammation and pain in joints, bones, and muscles. The disability comes in different forms and is known to affect both children and adults. An individual with arthritis tends to experience muscular pains and aches, joint inflammation, and reduced movement or joint stiffness. The symptoms can vary from one individual to another, depending on the type of arthritis. Thus, the variance in caring for individuals with arthritis. Exercise and physiotherapy are among the highly recommended techniques for managing this type of disability. People with arthritis can regain movement control if provided with the right tools and environment for managing the disability.

  5. Spinal Cord Injury

    Spinal cord injuries result from a lack of sufficient blood and oxygen supply to the spinal cord. It can also arise from the application of excess pressure to the spinal cord. Accidents and falls are the major causes of spinal cord injury. Still, this physical disability can also be caused by other factors such as degenerative spinal conditions, cancer, and arthritis. The injuries lead to partial or total impairment of the motor and sensory functions in the limbs or the body. For this reason, an individual with a spinal cord injury disability will experience a loss of feeling or mobility. Spinal cord injury leads to either tetraplegia or paraplegia. Tetraplegia, also known as quadriplegia, is paralysis affecting most parts of the body. Its impact can extend to the stomach, both arms, legs, and some stomach muscles. Paraplegia, on the other hand, causes a loss of bladder and bowel control and movement.

  6. Epilepsy 

    Epilepsy is a neurological condition where an individual tends to have recurring unprovoked seizures. These seizures tend to cause a change in behavior, sensations or leads to loss of consciousness. It is worth noting that the severity and nature of the episodes vary from one individual to another; hence, it cannot be compared. There are no specific causes of this type of disability. However, brain infection, brain injury, genetics, stroke, and structural abnormalities of the brain can cause epilepsy. Epilepsy is not a lifelong disability to some individuals, and it can be controlled using medications. Surgery can also be used to correct the disability. Individuals with epilepsy are advised to avoid the known triggers and pay attention to lifestyle issues that may be triggering seizures.

  7. Muscular Dystrophy

    Muscular dystrophy occurs when the muscles responsible for controlling movement becomes weak. This type of physical disability is different, and each has a varying cause. The symptoms of the disability tend to vary depending on their nature. Still, they all lead to difficulties in swallowing and breathing, walking, and restrictions joint motion and heart problems. The most common type of muscular dystrophy is Duchene, which is a progressive disability. It mainly occurs in boys and can get worse with time. The disability has no cure. By the time the child with the disability reaches adolescence, they must use a wheelchair as their muscles are already too weak to control movement. Other types of muscular dystrophy can appear in childhood, while others only become apparent later in life.