Challenges to a person’s health can happen to anyone, at any age and at any time as a result of any number of different causes. When limitations related to a medical condition arise and begin to have a negative effect on essential life functions, such as walking, talking, seeing, hearing, or working (functions often referred to as “Activities of Daily Living” (ADLs), a person is said to have a disability.
No one is immune from the potential onset of a disability: An infant can be born with profound deafness; a child can become paralyzed from a playground injury; a young adult can develop depression and drug abuse; a woman in her early 30s can be diagnosed with multiple sclerosis; a man in midlife can develop Type II diabetes; and an older adult can lose vision because of glaucoma.
It is important to recognize that disability is not an illness. Just as health and illness exist along a continuum, so, too, does disability. Just as the same illnesses can vary in intensity from person to person, so, too, can the same condition lead to greater or lesser limitation in activity from one person to another. Some persons with disabilities never perceive themselves as being disabled. Some medical conditions might more likely be accompanied by limitations or changes in activity.
Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine specializes in children and young adults with physical disabilities and other disabling conditions.
Surgeon General’s Report on Health and Wellness