Disability and Health
Disability should not be equated with illness. The concept of health is the same for both people with and without disabilities - achieving and maintaining an optimal level of wellness in order to lead a full life. A healthy lifestyle enables people with disabilities to learn, work, and live actively in their communities, but health risks and disparities associated with disability can make achieving good health more difficult.
When compared to people without disabilities, people with disabilities report the following:
In addition, people with disabilities are at risk for secondary conditions, which are medical, social, emotional, family or community problems that is related to the primary disability. Examples of secondary conditions include fatigue, pain, social isolation, muscle spasms, anxiety, etc., many of which can be reduced or eliminated with health promotion efforts.
For people with disabilities, health promotion efforts are of critical importance. By engaging in healthy behaviors such as physical activity, people with disabilities can improve their overall health, prevent chronic conditions, minimize secondary conditions, and lead a full and active life.
A Call to Action
The health and wellness of people with disabilities is an emerging national and global issue. People with disabilities face more health challenges and greater health risks compared to those without a disability. In a recent initiative, The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Improve the Health and Wellness of Persons with Disabilities, more national attention was brought to this public health priority. The mission and activities of the Inclusive Fitness Coalition are inspired by and support the goals of this Call to Action.
The Call to Action outlines four goals to enhance the health and wellness of people with disabilities.