Una lesión de la médula espinal (LME) es un daño en cualquier parte de la médula espinal debido a un accidente u otro trauma. Dependiendo en la ubicación de la lesión, las personas con LME pueden perder el movimiento de sus piernas (paraplejía) o en sus piernas y brazos (tetraplejía). La alta tetraplejía, la forma más severa de lesión, puede causar parálisis completa debajo del cuello y puede limitar la habilidad de la persona de usar sus manos y dedos.
A spinal cord injury (SCI) is damage anywhere along the spinal cord from an accident or other trauma. Depending on the injury’s location, people with SCI may lose movement in their legs (paraplegia) or in their legs and arms (tetraplegia) in varying degrees. High-level tetraplegia is caused by an injury between the first four vertebrae of the spine and is the most severe form of injury. It can cause severe limitation or total loss of a person’s ability to use his/her legs and arms, including loss of dexterity in their hands.
According to the U.S. Census, an estimated 80% of adults 65 and older have at least one chronic disease, and about half have at least two. Some of the most common chronic diseases include diabetes, heart disease, cancer, lung disease, and stroke. These conditions can lead to disabilities which may impact people’s ability to live, work, and participate independently in their communities. People can reduce the impact of these chronic diseases by engaging in healthy behaviors as they age.
About 2.5 million Americans experience a traumatic brain injury (TBI) each year. TBI is lasting brain damage from a head trauma such as a fall or a car accident, and it can be mild, moderate, or severe. Some people experience seizures -- sudden bursts of electrical activity in the brain that can cause occasional jerky body movements or reduced levels of consciousness -- after a TBI. These seizures can happen any time, from hours to months or years after the injury.
An estimated 1.1 million Americans are legally blind, meaning that they have central vision of 20/200 or less, or a visual field smaller than 20 degrees. Compared to other disability groups, Americans who are legally blind have a higher college graduation rate. However, they still face disadvantages when seeking employment: These students may not have the same early work experience as other students and may not have developed their job search or interview skills.
Each year, about half a million Americans are treated for burn-related injuries. A burn injury commonly results from a fire, but can also be caused by contact with hot liquids, electricity, or chemicals. Large burns are those that cover at least 30% of a person’s body. They can cause lasting damage to bones, joints or muscles in the burned area. This damage may lead to challenges with activities of daily living. In a recent NIDILRR-funded study, researchers looked at the most common movement-related problems that persist after a large burn injury.
A spinal cord injury (SCI) is damage anywhere along the spinal cord, usually from an accident or other trauma. SCI can cause a loss of feeling and movement below the point of damage. As a result, people with SCI may need help with basic daily activities such as bladder and bowel care, dressing, and bathing, as well as more complex tasks like shopping and transportation. Often, a spouse or other close family member takes on most of this caregiving responsibility. Most past research has focused on the burdens and stresses of being a caregiver to a person with SCI.
Spina bifida (SB) is the most common congenital condition leading to disability in the United States. People born with spina bifida have damage to their spinal nerves because their spine didn’t develop or close properly in the womb. They may have reduced bladder and bowel control and loss of feeling in their legs. As a result, they may be more likely to develop health problems like urinary tract infections or skin ulcers than people without SB.
As the population ages, many people are growing older with physical disabilities they were either born with or acquired when they were younger, such as muscular dystrophy (MD), multiple sclerosis (MS), or spinal cord injury (SCI). In the general population, people have a higher risk of developing chronic health problems such as heart disease and cancer as they get older. Older adults with physical disabilities may have an even higher risk of health problems than their peers without disabilities for various reasons, including limited mobility and barriers to healthcare.
About half a million Americans are treated for burn-related injuries each year. A burn can result from exposure to a fire or contact with hot liquids, chemicals, or electricity. Although the burn injury itself is often treatable, burn injury survivors may have lasting functional challenges. These can include problems with cognition—thinking, remembering, or solving problems— due to the effects of inhaling smoke or toxic fumes, loss of oxygen, anesthetic use, or other medical complications. These cognitive problems can make communication difficult for a person with burn injury.
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