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3 min read

Common Physical Disabilities in the United States and What They Are

Did you know that over 42 million Americans have some type of disability? 

Arthritis 

This is a common physical disability that over 58 million Americans struggle with. Although arthritis can actually occur at any age, it is most present in older adults. Common symptoms often include joint pain swelling, and stiffness. Arthritis can have a large impact on a person’s ability to work if they have a physical occupation. In fact, this condition is one of the leaders of work disability. Arthritis can affect joints in places such as your hands, feet, hips, back, and neck. Luckily, there are treatments to help alleviate some of the pain accompanied by this condition. For example, healthcare professionals will often still recommend staying active despite the challenges and eating healthier. Talking with a doctor for the best plan of action is always recommended. 

Chronic Fatigue 

Studies show that up to 2.5 million people could be suffering which chronic fatigue in the United States. This condition is often called CFS -chronic fatigue syndrome, or ME-Myalgic encephalomyelitis. Despite its name, it is much more than just feeling fatigued. While this condition does cause extreme physical exhaustion, it also includes flu-like symptoms, cognitive impairment, chronic pain, and more. Anyone can develop CFS, yet it is most common in women. Unfortunately, there is no cure or treatment for CFS, but individuals can still live with the condition. While it does not shorten life expectancy, it can cause further physical disabilities and make daily life challenging. 

Cerebral Palsy 

A person at any age can have cerebral palsy and it affects around 1 million people in the United States. This condition causes weak muscles and movement, which can restrict development and limit the movements people can do. As a result, those with cerebral palsy can have chronic pain and muscle spasms. Roughly 70% of cases occur as an event during pregnancy, and about 20% because of labor and delivery. Lack of oxygen is also a reason for developing cerebral palsy. While any gender can get this condition, it is more prevalent in males. Common treatments include physical therapy, surgeries, medications, and medical devices that can be worn. It is best to discuss treatment plans with your healthcare provider. 

Hearing Impairment

Roughly 13 percent or 30 million Americans have some sort of hearing loss. Some of the most common causes of hearing impairment include aging, genetics, loud volumes, and a result of certain diseases. Hearing loss is more common in older adults but can happen to anyone. If someone is having trouble conversing with others in person or on the phone, and can’t hear television or music well, they may have signs of hearing impairment. It is always a good idea to discuss with your doctor to see if you should consider treatments- such as surgery or hearing devices. 

Mobility Issues

Millions of adults in the United States struggle with some type of physical mobility disability. Some individuals who have trouble with movement may need to use a wheelchair or walker. People with mobility disabilities can either be born with them or develop them as a result of aging, injury, or disease. There is a wide range of physical disabilities that fall under the category of mobility disabilities.  Some examples include but are not limited to multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, heart conditions, and even respiratory issues. 

Physical disabilities can definitely be challenging and frustrating, but fortunately, the healthcare industry has made great progress over the years to try and relieve disability symptoms (depending on the condition) and to treat them effectively. 


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References

CDC (2018, August 16). CDC: 1 in 4 US adults live with a disability. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved September 13, 2023, from https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2018/p0816-disability.html#:~:text=The%20most%20common%20disability%20type,affects%201%20in%207%20adults.

Leppert, R., & Schaeffer, K. (2023, July 24). 8 facts about Americans with disabilities. Numbers, Facts, and Trends Shaping Your World. Retrieved September 13, 2023, from https://www.pewresearch.org/short-reads/2023/07/24/8-facts-about-americans-with-disabilities/#:~:text=Overall%2C%20there%20are%20about%2042.5,Census%20Bureau%20data%20from%202021.

CDC (2021, November 3). Arthritis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved September 13, 2023, from https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/factsheets/arthritis.htm#:~:text=In%20the%20United%20States%2C%2024,form%20of%20arthritis%20is%20osteoarthritis.

CDC (2021, November 3). About ME/CFS. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved September 13, 2023, from https://www.nih.gov/mecfs/about-mecfs#:~:text=According%20to%20the%20CDC%20%2C%20836%2C000,pre%2Ddisease%20level%20of%20functioning.

(2023, July 21). Cerebral palsy statistics. Cerebral Palsy Guide. Retrieved September 13, 2023, from https://www.cerebralpalsyguide.com/cerebral-palsy/statistics/#:~:text=Around%201%20million%20people%20of,%2Dyear%2Dold%20children).

NIH (2021, May 11). What are common treatments for cerebral palsy? National Institutes of Health. Retrieved September 13, 2023, from https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/cerebral-palsy/conditioninfo/treatments

(2021, March 25). Quick Statistics About Hearing. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Retrieved September 13, 2023, from https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/statistics/quick-statistics-hearing

NIH (2023, January 19). Hearing Loss: A Common Problem for Older Adults. National Institute on Aging. Retrieved September 13, 2023, from https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/hearing-loss-common-problem-older-adults#:~:text=Hearing%20loss%20is%20a%20common,conversations%20with%20friends%20and%20family.

(2023). Mobility and Physical Disabilities. Accessbility.com. Retrieved September 13, 2023, from https://www.accessibility.com/disabilities/mobility-physical

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