Physical & Health Disabilities

Phoebe Fetzer

What are Physical and Health Disabilities?

  • Physical and health disabilities arise from different conditions that impact movement or require health care.
  • Physical disabilities arise when the functioning of ones body impacts their education.
  • Health disabilities arise when health situation impact their learning.

Under IDEA these disabilities are identified as:

  • orthopedic impairments (physical disabilities)
  • other health impairments (health disabilities)

Physical Disabilities vs Health Disabilities

Physical Disabilities are characterized into two groups

Muscular/ Skeletal Conditions: Impairments that affect the limbs or muscles

Muscular/ Skeletal Impairments:

  • Juvenile Arthritis
  • Limb Deficiencies
  • Skeletal Disorders

Neuromotor impairments: Conditions caused by damage to the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord)

Neuromotor Impairments

  • Epilepsy
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Spinal Cord Disorders
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Polio
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Health Disabilities are also categorized into two groups

Chronic Illness: Is a long lasting condition that can be controlled but not cured.

Chronic Illness:

  • Asthma
  • Blood Disorders
  • Childhood Cancer
  • Congenital Heart Defects
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Diabetes
  • Sickle Cell Anemia
  • Tuberculosis

Infectious Diseases: Some infectious diseases can be passed from person to person.

Infectious Diseases:

  • Hepatitis B
  • STORCH Infections


  • · Low incidence disabilities
  • · 0.09% of students have physical disabilities that require services
  • · 1.38% of students have health disabilities
  • · Since ADHD was included the number has grown by over 284% in the health disabilities category
  • · No national or state-based registries
  • · Some students have multiple conditions so double-counting is high
  • · Over ½ of physically disabled students attend their local schools
  • · They are a part of the regular school day 80% of the time
  • · Over 60% of students with health disabilities participate in general education more than 80% of the school day.
  • · Slightly less than 1% of all students with health impairments have chronic illnesses- their education need to be delivered to them
  • · Asthma:7-10%,
  • · Type 1 Diabetes:0.26%,
  • · Epilepsy: 0.3%,
  • · Cerebral Palsy: 0.3%,
  • · Sickle Cell Anemia: .02% of all, .2% of African American children

Criteria to receive special services

Not every student qualifies for special services. There are some qualifications:

Health Disabilities:

  • · Must result in limited strength, vitality, or alertness
  • · Is due to chronic or acute health problems
  • · Affects educational performance adversely

Physical Disabilities:

  • · Must be severe
  • · Affects educational performance adversely

Multiple Sclerosis-Breea's Story.wmv


To help students access the curriculum easily and learn effectively, teachers can…

  • Make schedule more flexible
  • Extend due dates for complex assignments
  • Use e-texts
  • Substitute word processing for handwriting
  • Note takers
  • Alternative settings for test taking
  • Improve classroom traffic patterns
  • Provide safe and secure place to store AT devices
  • Elevators
  • Service Animals
  • Special or adapted pencils
  • Book holders and page turners
  • Adapted computer keyboards

Home Strategies

  • The use of technology in the classroom can be carried on to the home environment, especially for students with physical and health disabilities who can’t always make it to school because of a severe illness.
  • Distance Technology, or accessing general curriculum with technology at home or hospital, can be achieved through…
  • Online assignments
  • Establishing communities of practice
  • Skyping lectures and class discussions
  • Creating virtual classrooms (i.e.. Blackboard)

Diabetes logbook by mySugr

This App lets you manage your diabetes (type 1 or type 2) in a fun easy way. It focuses on making your diabetes data useful in every day life.


Multiple Sclerosis-Breea's Story.wmv. (n.d.). Retrieved May 7, 2015, from

Cerebral Palsy: Types, Diagnosis & Research. (n.d.). Retrieved April 29, 2015, from

Infectious diseases. (n.d.). Retrieved May 6, 2015, from

Smith, D., & Tyler, N. (2014). Introduction to contemporary special education: New horizons. Boston: Pearson Education.

What is chronic disease? (2011). Retrieved May 6, 2015, from