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1. impairment of function to below the maximal level, either physically or mentally.
2. anything that causes such impairment.
3. the United States Government defines a disability as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of an individual's major life activities:” this includes both those individuals with a record of an impairment and those regarded as having such an impairment.
4. the World Health Organization defines disability as loss of function at the level of the whole person, which may include inability to communicate or to perform mobility, activities of daily living, or necessary vocational or avocational activities; rehabilitation is aimed at teaching patients to remediate or compensate and thus maximize functional independence. See also handicap and impairment.
developmental disability a substantial handicap in mental or physical functioning, with onset before the age of 18 and of indefinite duration. Examples are autism, cerebral palsy, uncontrolled epilepsy, certain other neuropathies, and mental retardation.
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. According to the International Classification of Impairments, Disabilities and Handicaps (World Health Organization), any restriction or lack of ability to perform an activity in a manner or within the range considered normal for a human being. The term disability reflects the consequences of impairment in terms of functional performance and activity by the person; disabilities thus represent disturbances at the individual level.
2. An impairment or defect of one or more organs or members.
Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012


n. pl. disabili·ties
a. A physical or mental condition that significantly limits a person's motor, sensory, or cognitive abilities.
b. The state of having such a condition. discrimination based on disability.
a. A program that provides financial support to people with such conditions: has been on disability for a month.
b. The economic assistance provided by such a program: has been getting disability since the accident.
3. Law Lack of legal capacity to perform some act, such as to enter into a contract, because of infancy or lack of soundness of mind.
The American Heritage® Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2007, 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.


Occupational medicine An inability to work because of physical or mental impairment, which precludes performing expected roles or tasks Degree Partial–some types of labor can be performed; total–degree of impairment precludes any type of gainful employment; disability is affected by various factors, including age, education, economic and social environments Social medicine Handicap A limitation in a person's mental or physical ability to function in terms of work, learning or other socially required or relevant activities, to the extent that the person might be regarded as having a need for certain benefits, compensation, exemptions, special training because of said limitations Examples Impaired hearing, mobility, speech, vision, infection with TB, HIV, or etc, malignancy, past Hx of alcohol or drug abuse, mental illness. See Ambulatory disability, Americans with Disabilities Act, Handicap, Learning disability, Reading disability, Reversible ischemic neurologic, Political correctness, Serious emotional or behavioral disability/disorder, Temporary partial disability, Temporary total disability. Cf Impairment.
McGraw-Hill Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


1. Diminished capacity to perform a physical or mental function within a prescribed range.
2. An impairment or defect of one or more organs or members.
See also: handicap
Medical Dictionary for the Health Professions and Nursing © Farlex 2012


A term whose definition has been much debated. The current UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities reads: ‘Persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and active participation in society on an equal basis with others.’ A definition proposed in 2006, subject to WHO approval is: ‘Difficulty in functioning at the body, person or societal levels, in one or more life domains, as experienced by an individual with a health condition in interaction with contextual factors.’
Collins Dictionary of Medicine © Robert M. Youngson 2004, 2005


According to the International Classification of Impairments, Disabilities and Handicaps (World Health Organization), any restriction or lack of ability to perform an activity in a manner or within the range considered normal for a human being.
Medical Dictionary for the Dental Professions © Farlex 2012

Patient discussion about disability

Q. Is it true that fibromyalgia is a disability? I haven't worked long enough to draw my regular social security, the fibromyalgia i have had since 1996 keeps me from working, so why can't i get ssi and some health insurance please help me.

A. Fibromyalgia is a relatively new term in the medical world, which primarily is defined by muscle and tissue pain and the etiology, or reason is unknown. Also, sufferers react to pain with a light touch often. Other symptoms include stiff joints and insomnia.

Fibromyalgia is considered a symptom, as this is when a set of symptoms occur together without known cause. A disability, however, is a physical defect or illness that is clearly defined.

Fibromyalgia shares symptoms of those who have a high degree of stress and/or anxiety, so this has been suggested as the cause as well. These links that follow might help more:

About.com: Fibromyalgia - News, information, and support for sufferers of fibromyalgia.
Arthritis Insight-Fibromyalgia - Definition, the symptoms, and how is it diagnosed and treated.
Autonomic (Sympathetic) Nervous System Dysfunction in Fibromyalgia - Fibromyalgia symptoms can be explained by autonomic (sympathetic) nervous system dysfunction
Diagnosis a

Q. What kind of job would suit a person with a disability like arthritis? My Dad is settled in USA, and he suffers from Rheumatoid Arthritis. Can anyone suggest me a job which he can take up, which he can do, without too much of physical work? He is well educated and was a teacher in India, but he is waiting for his certificates to get to USA, to apply for teaching positions.

A. Assuming you don't consider teaching in a classroom too much physical work, he should probably wait for his teaching certificates to clear and then work as a teacher. I meas, why do you feel he should change his career?

Q. Could ADHD be the reason my nine year old can not read or tell the difference between 16 and 60? My nine year old can not read or remember how to spell little words like as and on. She also has major problems with complicated sorting that other child younger then her can do. The school says it is because she is not on medication for her ADHD. She has a younger sister who has ADHD and is not on medication and she is doing well in school. Can ADHD cause all her problems or is there something else going on.

A. I have a 13-year-old child who has ADHD along with learning disabilities including an auditory processing disorder and a working memory disorder (diagnosed in 2nd grade). Not sure if the attention symptoms are because of the learning disabilities, etc. LD goes hand in hand with ADHD and vice verse. A very high percentage of people who have ADHD also have something else going on such as learning disabilities, oppositional defiance disorder, bipolar disorder, etc. My child is 13 now and has always exhibited signs of ADHD, LD and ODD. You should have your child tested at the school level for learning disabilities. Write a letter requesting testing for learning disabilities and give it to your school's principal. The school then has I believe 30 days to respond with testing.This will let you know if your child also has a learning disability going on with the ADHD. It also gives you the option of allowing your child to receive Special Education services in a resource class.

More discussions about disability
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References in periodicals archive ?
A large number of differently abled people, students and representatives of the Team-up, Telecommunication Company Jazz and others also attended the event.
Differently abled women and girls tend to be homebound, help with household chores and are often denied the chance to participate in community development.
She disclosed that they were having about 200 students including 30 differently abled ones.
A differently abled person can apply for the assistance with his/her National Identity Card for differently abled, the press release added.
The bench further directed the Sindh Information Department to publish notices through print and electronic media, including s in news and entertainment channels, informing private establishments that five per cent of their employees must be differently abled persons.
KARACHI -- Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has assured the differently abled persons (disabled) to provide them government jobs in April for which he has already issued necessary directives to the chief secretary to expedite the process.
'Since the overall recruitment process was taking time, therefore, a separate process for differently abled persons was started and now their inter-views have almost been done,' he added.
The event, hosted by Save the Dream, a Doha-based non-governmental forum, working for the uplift and rehabilitation of differently abled children, including those having visual problems.
He said government has been providing allowance of Taka 700 each among 8.25 lakh and stipend Taka 500-1200 each among 80,000 differently abled people.
The walk was organised by the Sindh Council for the Rehabilitation of Differently Abled Persons, starting from the Arts Council and ending at Karachi Press ClubThe advisor to the chief minister said that the Sindh chief minister has constituted a committee to implement a special persons' employment quota in letter and spirit.She also said that disability certificates issued by private institutions were not valid for employment and advised all special people to obtain certificates from the social welfare department.
New Delhi Around 55,000 children including 3,300 visually impaired and differently abled kids across the country participated in the Salwan Marathon here on Sunday.
After Cielo Honasan emerged as the country's breakout star in the recent 9th Asean Para Games, Mike Barredo hopes to discover more differently abled athletes like her.