What is a Physical Disability?

A physical disability is one that affects the person’s mobility and or dexterity. The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates that at least 6% of Australians over the age of 5 years have mobility disabilities.

Physical disabilities can be permanent, intermittent or temporary. Physical disabilities can be caused by:

  • Congenital factors
  • Trauma/accident
  • Infection
  • Degeneration
  • Disease
  • Chronic medical conditions

Mobility impairments vary form person to person and may include problems with balance, gait and coordination; dizziness and weakness; pain and paralysis. Aids such as crutches, a walking stick or a wheelchair may be used. Some conditions may go into remission; others may come and go with no particular pattern, or there may be a gradual deterioration.

Among the most common permanent disorders are partial or total paralysis, amputation, severe spinal injury, types of arthritis, cerebral palsy, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, post-polio syndrome and spina bifida. Additionally, some respiratory and cardiac diseases may affect mobility. Any of these may impair strength, speed, endurance, coordination and dexterity.