Physically Handicapped – Types, Cause, Diagnosis, and Treatment


  • Any loss or abnormality of anatomical structure or function.


  • It refers to functional impairment due to symptoms of a disease. It is a restriction in the ability to perform an activity in the manner or within the range considered normal for a human being


  • It refers to the conditions faced by a person with a disability in fulfilling traditional roles depending on sex, age, social and cultural factors. Handicap is a function of the relationshipS between disabled persons and their environment. 
  • It occurs when the person encounters cultural, physical, and social barriers that stop their access to the various structure of society available to other citizens. Accordingly, a handicap is the loss or limitation of opportunities to participate in community life on an equal level with others. 

I had earlier shared Social Handicaps I hope you read.

physically handicapped
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Types of Handicaps

Types of Handicaps

      Physical Handicaps

  • It includes children who are
  1. Blind
  2. Deaf
  3. Dumb
  4. Crippled 
  • The causes of physical handicaps include polio, paralysis, or cerebral palsy.

Also read: How Do You Get Bell’s Palsy

Causes of Handicaps

A baby may be born with handicaps or acquire it later in life due to any of the following reasons:

Pre conceptual factors

  • Genetic and chromosomal factors
  • Diseases that are transmitted genetically may be autosomal dominant, autosomal recessive, or sex-linked. An alteration in genes and chromosomes due to any defect or mutation can initiate the process of malformation that may lead to physical or mental disability.

Read: Sexual Dysfunctions And Problems Can Be Caused By…

Antenatal and Intranatal factors

  • Asphyxia 
  • Lack of oxygen supply to the fetal brain during gestation due to placental factors may lead to severe mental defects in the fetus. Prolonged and difficult labor may worsen the condition of the neonate.
  • Birth trauma
  • Prolonged labor and difficult instrumental delivery may cause cerebral damage. In case of breach delivery, hyperextension of the head or stretching of the vertebral column may give rise to spinal cord injury that may cause physical impairments in the baby.

When to Deliver IUGR Baby?

Postnatal factors

  • Biochemical disorders
  • In the infant, The baby is at high risk of hypoglycemia, or kernicterus, which can cause cerebral damage.

Premature Infant

  • Infections 
  • Infections like meningitis, encephalitis, poliomyelitis, etc., result in neurological and physical defects and disability.
  • Trauma 
  • Cerebral contusion, cerebral hemorrhage, and head injuries after road traffic accidents can lead to neurological deficits in the person. Road traffic accidents may also lead to crushing injuries of limbs, leaving the person crippled and handicapped. 
  • Nutritional deficiencies 
  • Nutritional deficiencies like Vitamin A deficiency and Vitamin D deficiency can lead to night blindness, skeletal deformities, etc.
  • Maternal factors
  • Maternal factors leading to handicaps in babies are:
  • Rh incompatibility 
  • Multiple pregnancies
  • Medications given to the mother during the first trimester of pregnancy 
  • Forceps delivery
  • Premature rupture of membrane
  • Cord prolapse
  • Maternal hypertension or diabetes

I have already covered  What Vitamins And Minerals Are Good For the Brain?

Diagnosis/Assessment of Handicaps

Standard features which may help identify disabilities are:

  • Deviation from normal behavior is the first indicator of physical, mental, or neurological impairment
  • Absence of normal reflexes
  • Feeding problems
  • Lack of movements or uncoordinated movements
  • Abnormal posture of the newborn. 


Problems Faced by Families of Exceptional Children

Shock and denial

  • Parents feel shocked at the birth of an exceptional child. They use denial as a defense mechanism and are not ready to accept that their child is born with an abnormality.


  • After a long phase of stress, parents try to adjust to the child’s condition.

Is Adjustment Disorder With Anxiety A Mental Illness?

Reintegration and acceptance

  • Reintegration of the family occurs, and parents then accept the child as he is.

Freezing out

  • The child is put out of the family, in some institution for his/her treatment and guidance.


Physical Handicaps

  • Blind 
  • Deaf 

The reaction of Child and Parents to Physical Handicaps

Reaction of Young Children

  • They consider it as a punishment for being wrong.
  • Show resentment towards parents, siblings, or teachers.
  • They may deny the disability.
  • They may have behavior problems like temper tantrums, stammering, sleep problems, etc.
  • Depression

Reaction of Older Children

  • They may use their disability to influence family, friends, and physicians.
  • Feeling of inferiority and depression.
  • School failure because handicap is taking as an excuse for failure.
  • Rebellious independence.
  • Negativism

Reaction of Adolescents

  • Fear of losing control of body functioning.
  • Shame for not being like everyone else.
  • Personality problems like becoming either aggressive or immature.
  • Adjustment problems.

Reaction of Parents 

  • They deny the incurability of handicaps.
  • Guilt feeling.
  • Show anger towards physicians and God.
  • Have an overprotective or overindulgent attitude.
  • May neglect, exploit or abuse the child.
  • Maybe over-anxious.


  • Management aims to minimize the severity of handicaps and their effect upon the child and his family. Following strategies may be helpful for the child:
  • Physically disabled children want to be expected and be seen as usual as possible. Focus on what they can do at all times. 

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