Orthopedic Impairment

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Jill A. Maerkle
created at Touro College
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The definition of an, "Orthopedic Impairment," is one that includes impairments caused by congenital anomalies such as absence of a member, clubfoot, impairments caused by disease such as bone tuberculosis, poliomyelitis, or impairments for other causes to include amputations, fractures, cerebral palsy, burns, or fractures.

Types of Orthopedic Impairment:

  • Bone Diseases
  • Brachial Plexus/Erb's Palsy
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Poliomyelitis
  • Scoliosis
  • Spina Bifida 
  • Spinal Cord Injury
  • Spinal Muscular Atrophies

Orthopedic Impairment

Strategies for Educators:

Students with Orthopedic Impairments and Assistive Devices

Where the majority of students with orthopedic impairments are concerned it is a matter of focusing on needed accommodations in the academic environment. As with many students with disabilities, classroom accommodations for students with orthopedic impairments vary depending on the individual and their particular needs. Because the majority of students with orthopedic impairments do not experience cognitive disabilities as well, an educator should collaborate with the student in relation to their curriculum as much as possible or needed.

For a student with orthopedic disabilities to access a generalized curriculum, an educator might be required to meet the following accommodations:

  • Seating arrangements to develop useful posture and movements
  • Instruction that is focused on development of gross and fine motor skills
  • Ensuring suitable augmentative communication and other assistive devices
  • Adequate awareness of the student’s medical condition and its affect on the student

Due to the unique nature of orthopedic impairments, additional specialists might need to become involved in the development and implementation of appropriate educational programming for the student.

There are various specialists that may become involved, such as:

  • Physical Therapists
  • Additional Therapists
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Speech-Language Pathologists
  • Adapted Physical Education Teachers

Because there are varying levels of orthopedic impairments, a number of types of assistive technologies might be used. The assistive technologies used need to address the needs of the student so that they are able to access the educational curriculum, as it would be with any other student with a disability. Technologies that may apply specifically to students with orthopedic disabilities may include:

Students with orthopedic disabilities may also use devices for both mobility and positioning. The assistive devices they use are focused on assisting them to participate in educational activities.

The devices these students use may include: