What is a Physical Disability?

According to the Equality Act 2010, you are considered disabled if you have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities.

Find out more about the meaning of ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ as mentioned above, here.

Physical disability or physical impairment?

An Impairment refers to a problem with a particular organ or structure of the body and disability refers to the extent to which the impairment causes difficulty carrying out tasks or activity. Some impairments do not have much of a disabling impact and some have a huge impact. Sometimes the impact from an impairment can disable an individual in ways you wouldn’t normally expect. For example, the attitudes and discrimination towards an impairment can be truly disabling.

What is a disability?

As mentioned above, a disability is any condition that impacts an individual’s ability to carry out tasks or take part in an activity, both mentally and physically.

Types of physical disabilities

There are many types of physical disabilities. Some get worse, or progress, over time. Some can fluctuate, some remain stable. Some are very painful whereas others are not. Sometimes physical disabilities are invisible.

Physical disabilities include Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida, Fibromyalgia, Spinal Chord Injury, Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic Arthritis, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Other types of disability

Other types of disability include visual disabilities, hearing disabilities, mental disabilities, and learning disabilities.

There is no list of recognised disabilities in the UK. However, you can visit Citizens Advice to find out more on whether you are disabled under the Equality Act here.

What are complex needs?

According to the NHS: If your child has been diagnosed with an illness, disability or sensory impairment and needs a lot of additional support on a daily basis, they’re described as having “complex needs”.

Complex needs meaning

Complex needs can also mean having at least two needs that affect the physical, mental, social, or financial well-being of an individual. These are often longstanding and can be a result of many things including illness, substance abuse, etc.

What are additional needs?

Additional needs often refer to children. All children can have additional needs at some time in their lives. These needs could arise as a result of family circumstances, changes to living situations, cultural differences, health and medical concerns, disability, loss or bereavement.

Caring for someone with a physical disability

Caring for someone with a physical disability comes with many challenges. It is likely that you will need some help with mobility, whether that is in the form of in-home adaptations to make life easier for you, or a wheelchair or car to enable you to visit appointments. We always recommend getting in touch with your GP or local council to find out what support is available to you. You can also visit our money & legal section for information on benefits.

Get peer support

Speaking to, and connecting with other people in similar situations can be invaluable. Sign up to thePod to connect with other carers who face similar challenges, share your experiences, and support one another. You can also find local support in our directory here.

Support for getting out & about:

  • The motability scheme can help you to access a car or powered wheelchair.
  • If you’re unable to drive, you can find out more about using public transport, including the disabled person’s railcard on the Gov.uk website.
  • If you think you should have a blue badge, you can apply here.
  • Search our directory for support local to you.

Support at home

Talk to your local council about the support that is available to you to make adaptations to your loved one’s home. You can also find information in our directory about organisations that can help you.

Conditions & Illnesses

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