Mobility Disorders Defined

Mobility impairments range in severity from limitations of stamina to paralysis. Some mobility impairments are caused by conditions present at birth while others are the result of illness or physical injury.

Injuries to the spinal cord cause different types of mobility impairments, depending on the areas of the spine affected.

  • Quadriplegia refers to the loss of function to arms, legs, and trunk. Students with quadriplegia have limited or no use of their arms and hands and often use motorized wheelchairs.
  • Paraplegia refers to the loss of function to the lower extremities and the lower trunk. Students with paraplegia typically use a manual wheelchair and have full movement of arms and hands.

Below are brief descriptions of other causes of mobility impairments.

  • Amputation is the removal of one or more limbs, sometimes caused by trauma, malignancies or other conditions.
  • Arthritis is the inflammation of the body's joints, causing pain, swelling and difficulty with mobility.
  • Back disorders can limit a student's ability to sit, stand, walk, bend, or carry objects. They include, but are not limited to, degenerative disk disease, scoliosis, and herniated disks.
  • Cerebral palsy is the result of damage to the brain prior to or shortly after birth. It can prevent or inhibit walking, and cause a lack of muscle coordination, spasms, and speech difficulty.
  • Neuromuscular disorders include a variety of conditions, such as muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, and ataxia, which result in degeneration and atrophy of muscle or nerve tissues. Fibromyalgia is a form of "soft tissue" or muscular rheumatism causing constant pain in muscles and ligaments. Inactivity, depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue and sleep loss are common.