What is Physical Disability?

A physical disability is the long-term loss or impairment of part of a person’s body function, resulting in a limitation of physical functioning, mobility, dexterity or stamina. Due to the functional loss the person will experience the inability to perform normal movements of the body, such as walking and mobility, sitting and standing, use of hands and arms, muscle control, etc.

The two major categories of physical disabilities are: (1) the musculo skeletal disability, including loss or deformity of limbs, Osteogensis Imperfecta and muscular dystrophy; and (2) the neuro musculo disability, including cerebral palsy, Spina Bifida, poliomyelitis, stroke, head injury and spinal cord injury. The musculo skeletal disability is defined as the inability to carry out distinctive activities associated with movements of the body parts due to mucular or bone deformities, diseases or degeneration. The neuro musculo disability is defined as the inability to perform controlled movements of affected body parts due to diseases, degeneration or disorder of the nervous system.


Video explanations of physical disabilities:

(1) Chris Le – Musculoskeletal Disorder.

(2) Suzanne Villalon-Hinojosa – Spinal cord and other musculoskeletal disorders.

(3) Disorders and diseases of the skeletal system.

Video explanation of the muscular system: CTE – The muscular system explained in 6 minutes.


Examples of what people with physical disability experience in everyday life:

  1. Karen Van – Computer access for individuals with physical disabilities.
  2. Life Where I’m From – Living in Japan with a physical disability.



  1. Types of physical disabilities. Handicaps Welfare Association. Url:
  2. Neuro musculo disabilities. Appalachian State University. Url:
  3. Neurological disorders: types, research and treatment. Disabled World. Url:
  4. X. Zhang, H. Kulkarni, M. Morris. Smartphone-based eye gesture communication for people with motor disabilities, CHI 2017, May 06-11, Denver, USA, 2017. DOI: Paper pdf: Video explanation:
  5. D.N. Bryen, G. Heake, A. Semenuk, M. Segal. Improving web access for individuals who rely on augmentative and alternative communication. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 26(1), 2010, pp.21-29. DOI: 10.3109/07434610903561654.
  6. C.N. Shpigelman, C.J. Gill. Facebook use by persons with disabilities. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 19(3), 2014, pp.610-624. DOI: 10.1111/jcc4.12059.