Physical disability relates to a total or partial loss of a part of the body and/or total or partial loss of a person’s bodily functions, such as walking or bladder control.
People who use a wheelchair, walking frame or back brace are not the only people with a physical disability. Conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome or chemical sensitivity are invisible, but result in physical disability.
Physical disability usually involves:
• limited control of some or all voluntary muscles (e.g. paralysis of a person’s four limbs, referred to as quadriplegia); or
• underdeveloped skeletal structure (e.g. dwarfism); or
• dysfunctional joints (e.g. arthritis).
Spinal injury, amputation or acquired brain injury resulting from accidents can cause physical disability. It can also be caused by some medical conditions such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy or atrophy, multiple sclerosis, nervous system diseases, circulatory diseases, respiratory diseases, arthritis, other musculoskeletal disorders, stroke, and post-polio syndrome. Inherited conditions passed on genetically, and exposure to drugs or chemicals during pregnancy can also cause physical disability.