Health In Focus
  • Disability is a condition that restricts normal functioning but can be overcome to a certain extent with appropriate rehabilitative measures.
  • Disability can occur at any stage of life.
  • A conscious effort is required towards preventing conditions resulting in disabilities and providing a rehabilitative environment. 

With the Paralympics Rio 2016, came the recognition of the 19 paralympians who made India proud, bagging four medals, two gold, one silver and bronze. Determination, hard work and support from the well wishers play a huge role in their success.

Paralympics is an international sports event second to the Olympics that embraces the differently abled athletes, setting a competitive stage to celebrate their spirit and test abilities.
Disability Does Not Put You at a Disadvantage

Disabled or the differently abled constitute 15% of the world population, which is more than 1 billion. These figures are only going to see an increase in the future with the rise in aging population and chronic health disorders that are increasing in prevalence like diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, among others.

Disability can be defined as a consequence of an insult that is physical, mental, social or psychological that causes a restriction in the normal functioning of the person. This often results in the individual being ostracized due to their inabilities.

The prevalent types of disability include:
More than one type of loco-motor disability is considered as multiple disabilities.

Disability, is not a choice but a human condition that will catch up with every individual at some point of time. The disability may be temporary in nature or permanent. Some disabilities are present due to impairments at birth, while other people become disabled due to an impairment occurring later in life as a result of accidents, disease conditions or age.

Childhood disabilities (0-14 years) have been measured only in the Global Burden of Disease and it was found that 5.1% that is 95 million children are disabled, with severe disability in 13 million of these children.

Disabilities at birth are preventable in most of the cases.

The main causes responsible for disabilities in children include:
  • Infections in expecting mother
  • Nutritional deficiencies in the mother and the child
  • Genetic anomalies that go undetected during pregnancy
  • Early or late motherhood
  • Inadequate health facilities to provide maternal care
  • Domestic violence
  • Injuries to children
In India, disability has been estimated at 1.67% in the 0-19 year age group and 35.29% of all people living with disabilities are children. One third of most of these disabilities are due to preventable causes. And only 1% of these disabled children have access to schools.

Disability is seen existing at a higher prevalence in lower socio-economic conditions, uneducated, unemployed and aged individuals, which constitute the vulnerable population. A disability may slow down an individual from the normal functioning pace, however it does not require being the reason for the restricted life that he/she leads. Disability is often taken synonymous with disadvantage, however not all disabilities are restrictive. The restriction that is applied on them is often due to the stereotypical attitude of the society to a disabled.

There are many barriers that exist in the society and the environment that require change towards a rehabilitative nature to the differently abled.

The barriers are:
  • Lack of policies to protect and promote rehabilitative opportunities for the differently abled, and also failure to enforce existing policies.    
  • Neglected and negative attitude exists in education, work and social institutions that restrict even those without a disadvantage. This results in poorer health.
  • Lack of services with innovative and affordable technology in health care, assistance and rehabilitative support to the differently abled.
  • There is a lack of accessibility to the services and an environment that restricts the free movement of the differently abled and there is a lack of information on the existing services to the people in need.
  • Insufficient funds to provide a continued support and services to the differently abled.
  • There is a lack of community based studies on the disability situation in the country (India) and intervention studies that would benefit this vulnerable population.
  • Decision making and social participation are restricted in the differently abled and there exists an indifference to their choices.
Addressing these incapacitating barriers requires an organized movement and community based approach towards changing the attitude of the society from a restrictive to an enabling and supportive behavior. Policy changes and enforcement will turn the disadvantages to opportunities that would improve the productivity and economic independence of the differently abled. Training and appropriate technology will improve the confidence and social participation.

These measures not only aim at improving the present situation and environment of the differently abled but will also lead to an overall development of the society and put away the fear of survival in an event of disability in the future.

References :
  1. What is a Disability? - (
  2. Children With Disabilities - (
Source: Medindia

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