Physical activity and mobility may be impaired by a number of conditions, some of which are permanent, others of a temporary or intermittent nature. These conditions include cerebral palsy, arthritis, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease and repetitive strain injury (RSI). Back or neck injuries may also affect general mobility. A stroke may result in temporary or permanent loss of feeling or movement of part of the body – frequently on one side. Speech and vision may also be affected in students with cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis for example, and in those who have suffered a stroke.
Coordination and balance may be mildly or severely affected by any of these conditions. Movement may be impaired by muscle spasms, numbness or pain. As a consequence both manipulation of equipment and writing may be difficult. Some students use wheelchairs to enhance their mobility whilst others will walk with the aid of callipers, crutches or walking stick. Some students may suffer chronic fatigue and for others there will be extreme fluctuations of energy from day to day.
Physical disability may also result from head injury (ABI – acquired brain injury). Increasing numbers of students are returning to university following vehicle or sporting accidents in which they have sustained some degree of brain injury. Resulting impairment may affect speech, vision, coordination, and the injury may also be responsible for personality disorders or depression.
The resource Teaching Students who have a mobility disability contains informtion on:
- The impact of mobility impairment on learning at university
- Communicating with students with mobility impairment
- Teaching students with a mobility impairment
- Assessment strategies