Physical Disability

From DisabilityWiki

Physical Disability is a broad term used to describe a wide range of conditions that affect an individual's physical abilities and functioning. These disabilities can either be congenital, meaning present from birth, or acquired due to illness, injury, or aging. People with physical disabilities face unique challenges and experiences, which can significantly affect their daily life and well-being. These disabilities can be broadly classified into types, including mobility impairments, spinal cord injuries, and chronic health conditions.


Mobility impairments refer to disabilities that limit a person's ability to move. This category includes conditions such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida, as well as conditions resulting from stroke or traumatic brain injury.

Some conditions, like stroke, may be recoverable with physical therapy, and people’s levels of disability may be consistent or wax and wane depending on their cause. Spinal cord injuries often result in partial or complete paralysis. Causes can include accidents, falls, and diseases such as polio or spina bifida.[1]

Certain chronic health conditions can also lead to physical disabilities. These include conditions such as multiple sclerosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and arthritis, among others.


The experiences of individuals with physical disabilities can vary significantly, both in terms of the nature of their disability and their personal and cultural contexts. One of the central issues for individuals with physical disabilities is accessibility. This includes physical access to buildings and services, as well as access to information and societal inclusion.

Employment and Education[edit]

Employment and education opportunities can often be limited for individuals with physical disabilities due to factors such as discrimination and lack of accessibility. Ensuring equal opportunities in these areas is a key focus of disability rights advocacy. The rise in online educational resources since Covid-19 has been helpful for many, but may come at the cost of even less physical exercise and human interaction.

Assistive Technologies[edit]

Assistive technologies, including wheelchairs, prosthetics, and communication aids play a crucial role in enabling individuals with physical disabilities to live independently and participate in activities. Unfortunately, financial hardship and "a lack of assistance to get the assistance" may affect access to these tools, leaving people with more severe disabilities without them.

The Role of Society[edit]

Society plays a significant role in shaping the experiences of individuals with physical disabilities. This role extends to social attitudes and inclusion, along with the provision of support services. Negative social attitudes and stigma can be significant barriers and overcoming these barriers involves advocacy and cultural change.

Inclusion is crucial to ensuring that individuals with physical disabilities can participate fully in everything from education and employment to recreation. This involves measures to accommodate diverse needs.

Support Services[edit]

Support services, such as personal care assistance, physiotherapy and disability support programs, are vital for many people with physical disabilities. These services can help individuals to manage their disabilities and live more independently. Advocacy is also a crucial tool in promoting the rights and well-being of individuals with physical disabilities. This can involve self-advocacy, where individuals advocate for their own rights, or collective advocacy, where groups work together to promote broader change.


Physical disabilities encompass a wide range of conditions and experiences, and understanding these is key to progress. From the role of self-reliance and assistive technology to access and society's impact, many factors have the potential to influence people’s experiences.

Community Forum[edit]

See Also[edit]


  1. What are Spinal Cord Injuries? Shepherd Center