If you live in a densely populated area, then you most probably know someone with a physical disability. In our surroundings, people have a lot of misconception regarding physical disabilities. Some of them are even unable to differentiate between physical disability and mental disability while the rest of them think that all handicapped individuals are physically disabled and they just need your help out of the blue.

Handicapped or disabled whatever you want to call such individuals. They are also living human being like us, and they have the right to live their lives the way they want it. Often people mistreat disabled individuals just because they aren’t educated on the subject, so let’s take some time out to go through the guide to figure out the definition, cause and the types of physical disabilities and how one must treat and help a disabled individual.

What is physical disability?

Physical disability is linked to the physical activities and the mobility of an individual. A physically disabled person is constrained by his physical capacity to perform a specific physical activity. The medical condition affects the mobility, dexterity, stamina, and the physical capacity of the person.

Physical disability might affect an individual temporarily or permanently, depending on the severity of the cause. According to the doctors and the medical researchers, a physical disability is either hereditary or is caused by an accident or injury. Most of them are also caused by genetic disorders, but that is all covered under hereditary.

Science, medicine and technology, all have advanced a lot in this era which is why there are certain test for physical disabilities that are available which help you determine the kind of physical disability that you are suffering from whereas there have been certain diagnoses and treatments as well which have proven to be affected in most cases.

Cause of physical disability

It is often rude to ask someone the cause behind their physical disability. Some might tell you the whole story while others might get offended as well, so it is always best not to ask the individual anything regarding their disability. Some consider it as a gift and accept the reality while others have a hard time copping up with this demanding world with a physical disability.

There can be numerous causes behind a physical disability, but in order to narrow it down; doctors have constrained them under two main causes which are;

  1. Hereditary/Congenital
  2. Acquired

Hereditary physical disabilities are those that a person is in most cases born with. An individual might be born with a physical disability, or he might have some inherited genetic problems that develop a physical disability throughout his life. It might also be caused by a birth-related injury as well. In short, everything that is linked to birth falls under the category of hereditary physical disabilities.

On the other hand, an acquired physical disability is the one that an individual acquires due to an infection, disease, or an accident. Victims who lose their limbs in an accident, fall under their category, so it is clear that everything that happens after birth or isn’t related to your genes falls under the category of acquired physical disability.

People who are born with a physical disability often tend to accept it and try to live their lives normally because for them that has been normal throughout their lives, whereas individuals who acquire a physical disability often find it quite hard to deal with it and might lose everything over it as well. Thus never ask a physically disabled person the cause behind their disability because you might not like their reaction.

Types of physical disability

There is a wide range of physical disabilities, but they all fall under the two major categories. Categorizing diseases have helped the doctors diagnose the disease better and has also made it easier for individuals to keep track of their medical conditions. All the physical disabilities fall under two categories which are;

1. Musculo Skeletal Disability

Physical disabilities that are in any way linked to the muscles of your body fall under this category. It defines the physical disabilities that are caused due to muscle or bony deformities, diseases, or degeneration. This means that the affected individual won’t be able to carry out certain physical activities because of defaulted muscles or bones. Some of the most common disabilities that fall under this category are;

  1. Loss or Deformity of Limbs
  2. OsteogenesisImperfecta
  3. Muscular Dystrophy

2. Neuromuscular Disability

Apart from your bones and muscles, physical disabilities can also be caused by a breakdown or a shortage in the nervous system. Since our nervous system controls the functioning of our entire body, thus any issue in the neurons can easily cause a permanent or temporary physical disability. Nervous disorders that cause physical disabilities also fall under this category. Some of them are;

  1. Cerebral Palsy
  2. Spina Bifida
  3. Poliomyelitis
  4. Stroke
  5. Head Injury
  6. Spinal Cord Injury

How to treat and help a physically disabled person?

A physically disabled individual can be quite sensitive, which is why it is important that you treat them and help them according to their desires. Don’t assume stuff on your own and do as you like instead ask them what they would want you to do for them. There are certain tips that will help you treat a physically disabled person better.

  • Always ask them before you help them. They might want to do stuff on their own, and you helping them out at all times might affect their self-esteem.
  • You can nicely ask them about their disability, but never push them to tell you things or experiences that they don’t want to share.
  • Always be friendly, understanding, and nice to people with disabilities. They might be rude to you, but remember that they have a difficult life, and you being rude to them will only make things worse for them.
  • People in a wheelchair aren’t always sick. They can be healthy and strong as well. Be polite but don’t oversell their disability to them.
  • Treat them just like a regular person with the same level of respect and appreciation. Your behavior towards them might make their day.

We often tend to forget that people living with physical disabilities are living a life that they didn’t ask for. But since everything happens for a reason thus, some of them accept it while others find it hard to deal with the disability which is why they could use all the help and the support that they can get from the people around them. You will be surprised to find out that most of them need emotional help more than physical help, so try your best to make their lives better.


Heather Trice, Co-founder and Master of The Ring is an asset to the Foundation Auctioneers. Her inner energy and sharp dedication to the business drives her to excellence. She is the go to person at Foundation Auctioneers thus you can for sure rely on her to use her charismatic influence to lighten up any event. She’s a team player, a true professional and has a heart of gold.
Heather Trice final - An Overview Guide on Physical Disability