Severe orthopedic impairment may cause disability which affects the overall performance of an individual. Congenital anomalies, certain disease conditions, and injuries which result in loss of bone, tissue, or amputation of limb lead to permanent disability.

Disability may have a significant impact on quality of life and may also have a reduced life-span if the treatment is not given at the right time.

Some of the common disorders that may lead to disability include:

  • Cerebral palsy – It is a neurological disorder that occurs in infants, children, or adults. It results from damage of brain parts that controls muscle movements. Individuals with this condition will be accompanied by mental disabilities, difficulty in walking and speaking, lack of coordination of muscles, and stiffness in muscles all leading to disability
  • Muscular dystrophy – It is a group of genetic disorders characterized by muscle weakness and progressive loss of muscle tissue. It affects the skeletal muscles that are involved in movement of body parts. Child may frequently fall, walk with short steps tilting the body from one side to other side, mild mental retardation, difficulty in rising from sitting position, climbing stairs, walking and running. Children will be unable to walk and may be wheelchair-bound by their teenage and most die in early twenties
  • Club Foot – It is a congenital deformity of the legs where one or both feet are pointed inward and downward. In this condition, the foot may be slightly smaller than the normal or the foot may be twisted toward the other foot. The foot is rigid, stiff, or fixed and the muscles at the back of the leg are very tight
  • Hip dysplasia – Hip dysplasia is seen in infants and young children as a result of developmental problems in the hip joint. The femur (thigh bone) partially or completely slips out of the hip socket causing dislocation at the hip joint. In this condition, the position of the legs may differ, the leg may appear shorter on the side where hip is dislocated, and also causes restricted movement of the hip
  • Rheumatoid arthritis – It is an auto-immune disorder causing inflammation of the joints and surrounding tissues. It affects hip, knee, wrist, fingers, feet, and ankles. In rheumatoid arthritis the body’s immune system attack and destroy the healthy tissues causing joint pain, stiffness, and weakness. If not treated at the right stage it may lead to deformed joint making movement difficult.

Conditions causing physical disabilities may be treated by a multidisciplinary approach involving educational, therapeutic, training and rehabilitation programs. Some conditions may be treated using physiotherapy and surgical correction. The treatment for physical disability may be provided by physical therapists, orthopedic workshop technicians, and orthopedic and reconstructive surgeons.

Rehabilitation program reduces pain, promotes movement of the stiffed muscles in injured site, restores normal function of the injured site, prevents recurring damage to the injured tissue and helps in speedy recovery.

Certain conditions such as polio which causes permanent disability can be prevented by immunization.