A man with an amputated leg uses a yoga ball to perform exercises in a gym.

Physical disabilities: conditions

A physical disability is one that affects a person’s mobility or dexterity. It refers to total or partial loss of a person’s bodily functions. This can include walking, gross motor skills, bladder control or total/partial loss of a part of the body. A physical disability may exist from birth or be acquired later in life.

Below is a list of common physical disabilities:

Amputation. An amputation is the surgical removal of a part of the body. Approximately 5-6000 limb amputations are carried out in England every year.

Acquired spinal injury (paraplegia or quadriplegia). When the spinal cord is damaged, the communication between the brain and the rest of the body is disrupted. This leads to a loss of movement and sensation from below the level of injury. Damage to the spinal cord can be caused by trauma (like an accident) or from an infection or disease.

Arthritis. Arthritis is a musculoskeletal condition that falls into five main groups: inflammatory arthritis, degenerative or mechanical arthritis, soft tissue musculoskeletal pain, back pain and connective tissue disease (CTD).

Cerebral palsy. A condition that affects muscle control and movement, cerebral palsy is caused by an injury to the brain before, during or after birth. There are three main types of cerebral palsy: spastic cerebral palsy, dyskinetic cerebral palsy and ataxic cerebral palsy.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS). MS is a chronic and inflammatory disease in which the coating (myelin) surrounding individual nerves is damaged. This disrupts the transfer of nerve signals, which, in turn, can cause a range of symptoms such as muscular movement, imbalance and vision problems.

Muscular Dystrophy. Muscular Dystrophy is a group of inherited genetic conditions that causes the muscles to weaken. It is a progressive condition caused by mutations in the genes, and it begins by affecting a particular group of muscles before affecting the muscles more widely.

Post-polio syndrome. This is a neurological condition that can occur in people who have had polio. Symptoms include increasing weakness, fatigue, pain and stamina issues.

Spina Bifida. This is a birth defect in which the spinal cord and surrounding bones (vertebrae) have not developed properly. As such, there is a gap or split in the spine. There are three main types: spina bifida occulta, meningocele, and myelomeningocele.

To learn about health conditions that mainly affect Jewish people, please visit the Jnetics website or visit the Jewish health issues section of Jewish Care Interact.

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