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Physical disabilities (PD) and complex health needs

A child or young person with a physical difficulty will struggle with physical functioning, mobility, dexterity or stamina. Children and young people with physical difficulties may have an acquired or congenital physical impairment such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, arthritis, amputation, genetic disorder.

Children and young people with physical difficulties may experience one or more of the following

  • paralysis
  • altered muscle tone
  • an unsteady gait
  • loss of, or inability to use, one or more limbs
  • difficulty with gross-motor skills such as walking, running and catching a ball
  • difficulty with fine-motor skills such as fastening buttons, writing and picking up small objects

 Physical difficulties can range from mild to severe. The effects of a physical difficulty can be reduced through making changes to the child or young person’s environment and/or the use of assistive equipment.

Often children and young people with physical difficulties will receive help from a physiotherapist and/or an occupational therapist. Physiotherapists usually recommend movement and exercise to help improve mobility and function of gross motor skills. Occupational therapists help individuals to improve their ability to complete tasks in their daily life; often recommending aids and adaptations to help with this.

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