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Physical Medical Difficulties - Definitions and Glossary

Adaptive equipment assists people with disabilities and special needs to perform activities of daily living

AFO. An ankle-foot orthosis is an orthosis or brace that encumbers the ankle and foot. AFOs are externally applied and intended to control position and motion of the ankle, compensate for weakness, or correct deformities.

Asymetrical. The sides of the body are not in line causing an uneven gait

Athetoid or Athetosis. A type of cerebral palsy which manifests in random/uncontrolled movements that can be a combination of hyper and hypo muscle tone. Also affects the control of the tongue and vocal chords affecting speech production.

Augmentative and Alternate Communication (AAC).  Is an umbrella term that encompasses the communication methods used to supplement or replace speech or writing for those with impairments in the production or comprehension of spoken or written language. AAC is used by those with a wide range of speech and language impairments, including congenital impairments such as cerebral palsyintellectual impairment and autism, and acquired conditions such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Parkinson's disease. AAC can be a permanent addition to a person's communication or a temporary aid.

Communication. To communicate thoughts, needs, wishes etc. in either verbal or written form

Daily living skills. These include, moving around and within different environments, washing, dressing, eating, toileting etc.

Developmental co-ordination difficulties. Also known as Dyspraxia is a chronic neurological disorder that begins in childhood and is characterised by specific difficulties with co-ordination, motor planning and motor control which can affect any or all movements. Organisation difficulties are also present

Dycem. Provides immense grip on dry slippery surfaces such as tables, worktops and dinner trays. Tough enough to withstand years of use, and easy to wash in warm soapy water. Cut to any size.

Dyspraxia. A form of Developmental co-ordination difficulties. See above

Epilepsy. A condition that affects the brain and causes repeated seizures, which were sometimes previously referred to as "fits".

Fatigue. Extreme mental and physical tiredness or weariness resulting from physical or mental activity.

Gait. The way we walk

Hypertonic. Increased muscle tone

Hypotonic. Low/reduced muscle tone

Hypomobility Some or all the joints have an unusually large range of movements

Independence.  Not dependent or, not having to depend on anyone or anything else.

Independent movement/walking.  Not dependent or, not having to depend on anyone or anything in order to move.

Kaye Walker (Posture Control Walker).  Is designed to make walking less energy consuming whilst improving postural alignment. It combines an open-fronted, folding aluminium frame with individually height adjustable legs. It is pulled rather than pushed. 

Low Tone. Low muscle tone making the muscles loose, floppy.

Manual Handling.  The transporting or supporting of a load by hands or bodily force. This includes: Lifting

Mobility. The ability to move or be moved freely

Posture. A position of a person's body or body parts

Powered Chair. A wheelchair that is powered by a rechargeable battery that aids movement

Rollator.walker or walking frame that is a tool for disabled or elderly people who need additional support to maintain balance or stability while walking

Seating. Specialised chairs that provide postural support

Seizure. Symptoms of a brain problem. They happen because of sudden, abnormal electrical activity in the brain.

Transitioning. The movement between rooms and buildings as well as between key stages.

Useful Links:

Directory of various conditions

Cerebral Palsy

Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus





Child Brain Injury

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