UNDERSTANDING PHYSICAL DISABILITIES
posted by Administrator
A person with a physical disability is constrained by his physical ability to perform an activity independently such as walking, bathing, toileting, etc. A person can be physically disabled due to two reasons: Congenital/Hereditary - the person has physical disability since birth or the disability developed at a later stage due to genetic problems, problems with muscle cells or injury during birth. Acquired - the person acquired the physical disability through road or industrial accidents, infections such as polio or diseases and disorders such as stroke or cancer.
Life of a Disabled
Having a physical impairment is not the end of the world. Many people with disabilities live their lives just like any other able-bodied. They enjoy sports, movies, shopping and do a lot of other activities as well. They work as hard as the able-bodied and earn a decent income to support themselves and their families. Some do get married and have children of their own. However, they do need support from their families, friends, members of the public, the community to help them to integrate into the mainstream society by accepting who they are. Giving them opportunities at work and treating them like any able-bodied are some of the ways that can help them to live life to the fullest.
The Effects of Physical Disabilities
The extent of impact on the person depends on the type and severity of the disability condition, the person's educational level and personality, peers and family support, and financial condition. The impact faced by people with acquired disabilities and people with congenital disability can be described as follows:
PEOPLE WITH ACQUIRED DISABILITY
In general, people with acquired disabilities usually go through a difficult emotional adjustment process, along with their bodily adjustments to the treatment and continual care process. It starts with shock over sudden disability, which later develops into anger, denial and grief over the lost function, body part and image. Self-esteem is usually shattered and needs to be rebuilt, along with the change in body image and condition. They get into lots of worries, fears and anxieties of their future. Over time, they can ultimately overcome their adjustment periods and advance to acceptance and coping of their disabilities with guidance and care. Some will strive towards greater independence physically and financially, if possible. For some who do not make it, they will become frustrated and depressed as time goes by.
PEOPLE WITH CONGENITAL DISABILITY
This disability group usually adjusts to their condition physically and emotionally during their growing period. In general, some have low self-esteem especially in a neglected situation at home. Those with severe condition but with good mind may see themselves as a burden to their family. Some are very positive with supportive family members. The situation is different for those staying in an institutional home, they may feel rejected if their family members do not visit and contact them regularly. On the other hand, they may just live day to day as their basic needs are being taken care of even better than when they are at their own home. In conclusion, people with disabilities (for both congenital and acquired type) (for both congenital and acquired type) face lots of social challenges such as educational opportunity, independence level, employment and marriage opportunities due to their disabilities. They require assistance from the family, peers, society and government to help them to cope with their disabilities and move towards independence.
Details of Musculo Skeletal Disability
Loss or Deformity of Limbs
This may be due to birth defect or may occur due to diseases or accidents. The person may require an artificial limb to compensate the functional loss of activities.
A defective development of the connective tissues at the growing age that leads to softening of bones and the affected person experiences deformed posture. The person is usually small built with brittle bones. The cause of this condition is unknown but there is a strong hereditary link to it. Such persons are usually active though may require a wheelchair or crutches for mobility.
Progressive loss of muscle strength due to a group of hereditary disorders. Muscles around the neck, shoulders and hips are usually more affected than the other muscle groups. Muscles of the respiratory system are also affected at a later stage. With time the affected person's functional and mobility status deteriorates and may require a wheelchair for mobility.
Details of Neuro Musculo Disability
A group of non-progressive disorders occurring in young children in which damage of the brain causes impairment of motor function. It is caused by birth injury, jaundice and infection. A person with Cerebral Palsy usually has movement and co-ordination problems. The person may have other associated disabilities such as intellectual, behavioral, visual, speech etc. He may need different adaptive equipment and external support for the day to day activities.
It is due to development defect of the spinal canal, characterized by incomplete closure of the bony encasement of the spinal cord. It may cause paralysis of the lower part of the body depending on the level and extent of the lesion. The person may loose bowel and bladder control and may have sensory loss at the affected side. This person may require a pair of crutches or wheelchair to move around.
It is an infectious virus disease affecting the lower motor-neuron system. It is caused by the poliovirus and can affect children and adults. It causes weakness in the body and both legs. The person may require mobility aids and external limb supports for the day to day activities. Recently it has been found that many victims of poliomyelitis experience a second decline of their physical and functional status when they reach around the age of forty.
It is caused by the interruption of blood supply of the central nervous system or due to hemorrhage inside the brain. The affected person experiences a sudden impairment of the sensory motor functioning of one side of his body. This condition may also associate with other disorders like loss of vision, hearing, speech or intellectual functioning. The person may require a walking stick or wheelchair for mobility.
The extend of this disability depends on the part of the brain involved and the severity of the injury. In most cases it leads to a condition called hemiplegia where the sensory and the motor functions of one side of the body are impaired. It may also be associated with other disabling conditions like impairment of vision, hearing, speech or intellectual functioning.
Spinal Cord Injury - two types of disabilities
Paraplegia: Total or partial impairment of the sensory and motor functions in the lower part of the body and lower limbs. In most cases the affected person looses bowel and bladder control and in some occasions experience poor postural control. Depending on the level of injury the affected person may require a crutch, external limb supports or wheelchair for mobility.
Tetraplegia: Total or partial impairment of the sensory and motor functions of the body including all four limbs. The person looses control over bowel and bladder functions, posture and even in few cases respiratory functioning. The affected person may require different assistive devices to perform daily activities independently.
Treatment For Physical Disabilities
Improvement of the disabling condition depends on the cause, type, extend of the disease, disorder or injury. However, in most cases the physical improvement is seen only in the initial few years of disability. There are few conditions that are progressive type and the treatment goal is to maintain their condition.
Rehabilitation programs are planned to help individuals to overcome initial unstable conditions and prevent deterioration of the medical condition. The person should also be more conscious with his diet to avoid further deterioration of his medical condition and recurrent of diseases. More importantly, people with disabilities will learn, through rehabilitation programs, to manage their disabilities confidently.
Some of the programs include:
• Occupational Therapy is a specialized treatment programs that prepares the clients to live successfully in his/her own family and society. Through the practice and training of purposeful and goal directed activities and exercises, this treatment programs tries to improve client's functional abilities and independent living skills.
• Physiotherapy is a rehabilitative treatment programs, through the use of physical means such as exercises and electrotherapy that are planned and customized according to the individual client's need. Examples of the treatment are maintaining and improving the power of the target muscle group, preventing occurrence and progression of contractures and deformities.
• Speech Therapy is a specialized treatment and training programs that treats and trains clients to communicate effectively.
• Medication/Vaccination may be prescribed by doctor to avoid further deterioration of the physical condition and structural deformities. Vaccination against common virus is an effective way to prevent disabling diseases.