Difference Between Impairment, Disability, And Handicap

Something that I was always interested in learning is the difference between the terms, impairment, disability, and handicap. There is a similarity between the terms due to the fact that they affect the individual’s body and motor movements in a profound way. The discrepancies between these definitions are based on how they anatomically and physiologically affect someone, as well as the type of limitation it brings them.

To start, an impairment is any loss or abnormality of psychological, physiological, or anatomical structure or function. In someone who has severe spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, the impairment would be that the medical condition causes the joints and muscles to become stiff and contracted. As a result, the rigidity and spasticity of the muscles and joints will cause the person to have a difficult time moving their limbs voluntarily.

A disability is any restriction or lack of ability to complete an activity in the normal range for a human being. This is a result from an impairment. For example, the person with severe spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy will have a disabling effect in which they have a hard time producing speech and grasping onto objects, as well as walking.  

A handicap is a disadvantage for a given individual that limits or prevents the fulfillment of a role. With an individual with severe spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, their particular form of handicap is the fact that they will have a challenge performing tasks, such as playing sports and speaking clearly. With extensive physical therapy and speech therapy, the individual will become an active participant in society.

I know that these terms overlap in one way or another, but I hope that the difference between the three are understood.

Source: www.pediatrics.emory.edu/divisions/neonatology/dpc/Impairment%20MX.html

This entry was published on July 10, 2015 at 8:00 am. It’s filed under Blog and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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