Disability, Impairment, Handicap: Learning from the OTs

Some doctors have a “thing” against integrative management. Me? I love working with Occupational Therapists (which one day my baby sister hopes to be), Physiotherapists (or physio terrorists as they call themselves) and the many other allied health professionals. More about them later.

During our current theory rotation we have had quite a number of classes by Allied Health Professionals. The discussions of disability/impairment interested me immensely. Growing up with a visually impaired father and a mother whose daily work often involves working with the outcasts of society, disability was never strange to me. But these definitions opened my eyes (and mind).

The words “disability”, “impairment” and “handicap” are often used interchangeably… but they actually don’t mean the same thing.

IMPAIRMENT: loss of normal anatomical, physiological or psychological structure or function.

Click here for more about the little girl in this picture.

DISABILITY: Restriction in performing an activity within the normal expected range.

Click here to read about teaching visually impaired children in India.


HANDICAP: A disadvantage that prevents the fulfillment of certain societal roles.

What strikes me about this is the realisation that when society fails to accommodate for those with whatever impairments such that they become defined as handicapped, it is actually society that becomes disabled. – if you understand what I mean.


8 thoughts on “Disability, Impairment, Handicap: Learning from the OTs

  1. Hi,You have beautifully explained the 3 words with their apt pictures..!! Great to hear about you talk about our Allied Health Sciences..!! Thanks..!! As i belong to the physio (terrorist)team…! 🙂

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