Orthopedic/Mobility Impairments

A variety of orthopedic/mobility-related disabilities result from congenital conditions, accidents, or progressive neuromuscular diseases. These disabilities include conditions such as spinal cord injury (paraplegia or quadriplegia), cerebral palsy, spina bifida, amputation, muscular dystrophy, cardiac conditions, cystic fibrosis, paralysis, polio/post polio, stroke, and other physical disabilities. Functional limitations and abilities vary widely even within one group of disabilities. Accommodations vary greatly and can best be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Accommodations may include

  • accessible location for the classroom and place for faculty to meet with the student
  • extra time to get from one classroom to another, especially during inclement weather
  • special seating in classrooms
  • note takers, use of tape recorders, laptop computers, or photocopying of peer notes
  • test accommodations - extended time, separate location, scribes, access to word processors
  • special computer equipment/software - voice activated word processing, keyboard modification
  • adjustable lab tables or drafting tables for classes taught in lab settings
  • lab assistance
  • accessible parking in close proximity to the building
  • customized physical education class activities that allow the student to participate within their capabilities
  • taped/scanned textbooks
  • advance planning for field trips to ensure accessibility

If the university provides student transportation, it must provide accessible transportation on a field trip.

If you want to know more about orthopedic/mobility impairments...

-Students with orthopedic/mobility impairments may have any of the following conditions:

  • pain, spasticity, or lack of coordination

  • flare-ups of intensity of the symptoms
  • periods of remission in which little or no symptoms are visible
  • inability to walk without crutches, canes, braces, or walkers
  • ability to stand or walk but may use wheelchair for total mobility
  • limited lower body use but full use of arms and hands
  • limited use of lower body and limited use of arms and hands
  • impairment of speech or hearing
  • limited head or neck movement
  • decreased physical stamina and endurance
  • decreased eye-hand coordination

Disabilities that generally restrict mobility functioning:

Cerebral Palsy
The term applies to a number of non-progressive motor disorders of the central nervous system. The effects can be severe, causing inability to control bodily movement, or mild, only slightly affecting speech or hearing. The term is a general classification for stable cerebral lesions that usually occur at or before birth.

Spinal Cord Injury
In damage to the spinal cord, the extent of the resultant paralysis and sensory loss is determined by the level of injury. Injuries below the first thoracic nerve root (T1) level result in paraplegia, a spastic paralysis of the lower extremities. Injuries above the T1 level result in quadriplegia, a spastic or flaccid paralysis of the lower and upper extremities. The injury may be complete or incomplete.

Degenerative Diseases
Progressive diseases include muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis that may limit gross motor functions and/or fine motor activity.

Post-Polio Syndrome
A variety of problems are presumed to be the late effects of polio and the symptoms may include fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, and pain.

Motor Neuron Diseases
A group of disorders such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Progressive Bulbar Palsy (PBP), Progressive Spinal Muscular Atrophy, and Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease produce symptoms such as pain, numbness, weakness, loss of upper and lower motor functions, and problems in breathing.

Page last modified April 1, 2014