What are the different types of physical disability? - Abafields Home Care
physically disabled person in wheelchair

What are the different types of physical disability?

No two people are affected by physical disability in the same way.

There are different types of physical disability and each type can be experienced in different ways and with varying levels of severity.

What causes a physical disability?

Physical disabilities can be either hereditary, congenital, or be acquired at some point in their life. A person can have a physical disability since birth,  inherited genetic issues or due to an injury during birth or in later life.

In this article, we will take a look at the commonest types of physical disabilities, the effects they have, and the challenges people with the disability may need to overcome.

Hereditary, congenital, or acquired?

Physical disabilities can occur for different reasons, but each type of disability can be identified as either hereditary, congenital, or acquired.

Hereditary disabilities are those that a person has inherited through their genetics. They may be born with a disability or it may develop after they are born.

Congenital disabilities are those disabilities that someone has had from birth, so this may include those that occur in the womb or during birth as well as hereditary conditions.

Acquired disabilities are those disabilities that occur later in life as a result of illness or injury.

Muscular or neuromuscular disability?

Physical disabilities can present themselves in different ways but are defined as conditions that limit a person’s physical functioning, this can include their mobility, dexterity, and stamina.

Physical disabilities are also usually described as being either muscular or neuromuscular.

Muscular disabilities are caused by problems that affect muscles, joints, or bones in the body. They could be caused by degeneration, disease, or deformity and can cause pain and affect mobility.

Neuromuscular conditions are caused by problems with the nervous system and the functioning of the nerves and muscles.

Common types of physical disability

Some of the commonest types of physical disability include:


Arthritis is a very common condition that causes inflammation and pain in joints, which can cause movement to become painful and difficult.

There are many different types of arthritis and symptoms can range in severity. Some of the commonest types of arthritis include osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis can affect joints in any part of the body, but often effects the wrists, elbows, fingers, knees, ankles, and hips.


Epilepsy is a common neuromuscular condition that causes episodes of abnormal brain activity which results in sufferers experiencing seizures. The symptoms of each seizure can vary and may be different in different people. Symptoms of a seizure may include a loss of consciousness or awareness, uncontrollable jerking or twitching, or confusion.

Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy is a lifelong, non-progressive, neurological condition that usually occurs whilst the baby is in the womb or during birth, often because the baby has been starved of oxygen. Cerebral Palsy affects muscle movement, coordination, and sometimes speech, vision, and hearing too.

Spina Bifida

Spina Bifida is a condition that occurs in the womb when a baby’s spinal cord does not develop properly. People with Spina Bifida may have mobility problems due to weakness or paralysis of the legs. They may also experience a range of other problems including loss of skin sensation and incontinence.

Spinal cord injury

Spinal cord injuries can happen out of the blue, having significant and long-lasting effects on the way the body functions. The spinal cord sends messages from your brain all around your body, so damage to the spinal cord can cause a loss of sensation and mobility below the point of injury. Spinal injuries can vary in severity with some people retaining some motor or sensory function.

Paralysis from a spinal injury is referred to as either tetraplegia or paraplegia. Those with tetraplegia experience paralysis to all four limbs and the torso. The arms are not affected in those with paraplegia.

Muscular dystrophy

Muscular dystrophy is a genetic progressive condition that causes muscles to gradually weaken, eventually effecting the muscles’ ability to function. There are many different types of muscular dystrophy, some of which begin in childhood, whilst others may not surface until much later in life.

Those with muscular dystrophy may experience trouble walking or using their arms as the condition progresses. In more severe cases, muscular dystrophy can also cause breathing problems, heart problems, and problems swallowing.

Multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune condition that occurs when the immune system attacks the nervous system, causing damage and disrupting or slowing the messages travelling along the nerves from the brain to the rest of the body.

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic condition that can cause a variety of symptoms including mobility problems and extreme fatigue.


Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes widespread musculoskeletal pain, extreme fatigue, disrupted sleep, and cognitive difficulties. It is unclear exactly what causes fibromyalgia, but it is thought to often begin after a physical trauma.


Sometimes it is necessary to amputate all or part of a limb due to illness, injury, or a deformity.

After an amputation, it may be possible to have a prosthetic limb fitted, but this will depend on your general health, the type of amputation you had, and how much muscle strength you have in the remaining section of the limb.

Depending on where the amputation occurs, some people may experience ongoing mobility problems, or problems carrying out daily activities following an amputation.

Abafields Home Care for people with physical disabilities

Here at Abafields Home Care, we provide reliable and professional home care services to people living with physical disabilities in Bury, Bolton, and surrounding areas throughout Greater Manchester.

We offer both general domiciliary care and specialist high dependency care services to help those with a wide range of disabilities to retain their independence by caring for them in their homes. Our home care services are completely bespoke and can be tailored to your precise requirements, providing as much or as little support as you require.

For more information about any of our home care services, or to discuss your requirements in more detail, please give out friendly team a call on 0161 804 5060.