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Physical Impairment

Neuromuscular impairments include paralysis, weakness, and interference with control, via spasticity, ataxia (problems in accuracy of motor programming and coordination), and athetosis (extra, involuntary, uncontrolled and purposeless motion). Skeletal impairments include joint movement limitations, small limbs, missing limbs, or abnormal trunk size.

Arthritis means 'inflammation of the joints'. The word rheumatism is even more general, and is used to describe aches and pains in joints, bones and muscles.

Cerebral Palsy
If someone has cerebral palsy it means that part of their brain is not working properly or has not developed. This will have happened before they were born, around the time of birth or in early childhood. The affected area of the brain is usually one of the parts that control the muscles and certain body movements. In some people, cerebral palsy is barely noticeable. Others will be more severely affected.

Spinal Cord Injury
The spinal cord runs through a chain of boney rings known as the vertebrae. This vertebral column protects the spinal cord that works like a telephone cable sending messages of feeling and sensation to the brain which converts them into responses such as movement. When the spinal cord is injured these messages are interrupted or cannot get through at all. Depending on the extent of damage to the spinal cord, a person will be either partially or completely paralysed from the point of damage (lesion) downwards.

Head Injury
Acquired brain injury (ABI) occurs spontaneously within the brain such as a stroke, haemorrhage or tumour. This is as opposed to Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) which is ono-spontaneous and occurs as a result of external forces.

Stroke (cerebral vascular accident)
Stroke is the term used to describe the effects of an interruption of the blood supply to a localised area of the brain. In order to work, the brain needs a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients. These are carried to the brain by blood through the arteries. If part of the brain is deprived of blood, brain cells are damaged or die. This causes a number of different effects, depending on the part of the brain affected and the amount of damage to brain tissue.

Loss of Limbs or Digits
Removal of limbs may be necessary at any age as a result of various conditions, mostly peripheral vascular disease (this is a common circulation problem in which the arteries that carry blood to the legs or arms become narrowed or clogged). But causes may include malignant disease, injury (trauma) or congenital deformity.

Parkinson's Disease
Parkinson's is a progressive neurological condition affecting movements such as walking, talking, and writing. Average age of onset is around 60 years and the risk of getting Parkinson's increases with age. Younger people can also have Parkinson's and is known as " young-onset Parkinson's disease" if diagnosed in someone aged under 40 years.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Multiple Sclerosis is the most common neurological disorder among young adults, with no known cure. MS is the result of damage to myelin - a protective sheath surrounding nerve fibres of the central nervous system. When myelin is damaged, this interferes with messages between the brain and other parts of the body. The onset of MS is usually between 20 and 40 years of age. It is more common in women, with a ratio of 2 men to 3 women affected. It is more common in temperate rather than tropical climates. It has a wide range of symptoms and affects every individual differently.

Muscular Dystrophy (MD)
Muscular dystrophy is a name given to a number of conditions which have in common the breakdown of muscle fibres leading to weak and wasted muscles.


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