Physical Impairment

Signs and Symptoms

Physical impairment is an umbrella term that describes any condition that restricts a person’s mobility in their daily life. A person may be born with the impairment or may acquire it due to injury or illness.

Common examples include;

Amputation and Limb Loss - the absence of any body part due to surgical amputation or malformation. It can be acquired through injury, illness or they may be born with a condition.

Congenital Anomalies - can include heart, neural tube defects, spina bifida, cleft lip or palate and is caused by genetics, nutritional or environmental factors in the womb.

Skin Conditions - can be acquired at birth or through injury or illness. Skin conditions can restrict mobility, cause discomfort, itching, pain and mental health issues. Examples include eczema, burns, psoriasis and ichthyosis.

Spinal Cord Injury - can occur as a result of a trauma or a medical condition such as spina bifida. The spinal cord may be severed or damaged due to compression or bruising. This results in Quadriplegia or Paraplegia.

For more information and resources, visit Spinal Cord Injuries Australia

Affect on Daily Life at Work

» Your employee may experience pain, discomfort, itching, phantom limb, poor circulation or spasms due to their impairment.
» They may need additional support if their mobility and functional capacities are impacted.
» Associated pain and symptoms may fluctuate, affecting daily activities, mood, mental health and cognitive functioning
» They may require rehabilitation and physical therapies in the workplace

Workplace Support

» Communicate with your employee, understand their restrictions and side-effects of medication
» Ensure you allow additional breaks from sitting or standing if required

» Conduct a workplace capacity assessment to determine if modifications or on the job support are needed
» Provide an accessible workplace, including parking, entrances, exits and hallways
» Ensure mental health support services are available

Only 4% of people with a physical disability in Australia use a wheelchair

Australian Bureau of Statistics