Intellectual Disability

Intellectual Disability

Intellectual disability is diagnosed under the World Health Organisation as a person with significant cognitive impairment and adaptive behavior, with an onset occurring in the early developmental years. Children and adults with intellectual disability experience difficulties with learning physical and non-physical skills, and integrating fully into mainstream society.

There are many causes of intellectual disability. Some of these are genetic (such as Down’s syndrome and Prader Willi Syndrome) while others are acquired in the early developmental years (such as cerebral palsy).

Common challenges:

  • Behavioral inconsistencies

  • Low muscle tone

  • Reduced balance

  • Reduced strength

  • Reduced coordination

  • Reduced spatial awareness

  • Obesity

The role of the neurological physiotherapist in intellectual disability:

One of the most challenging things in working with people with intellectual disability is ensuring that they understand and have choice about the way in which they receive therapy supports, as too often this is ignored or not considered. As neurological physiotherapists with vast experience working with adults and children with a range of cognitive, psychological physical impairments, we will always try to understand others’ points of view, find creative ways to communicate and help them take charge of their own therapy wherever possible.

As part of our training as neurological physiotherapists, we understand how adult and childhood disability can affect their physical health and also how it affects the way they age. From here we can help them and their family identify and anticipate therapy support needs, suitable equipment and levels of attendant support they will likely need to maintain their health and well being.

What our skilled therapists can offer:

  • A consultation to understand what the person with an intellectual disability is looking to achieve or maintain

  • An assessment of their medical history and functional ability

  • Critical analysis of their movement preferences and postural control

  • Education on areas that are likely to improve and what steps can be taken

  • An attendant support or family supported home, pool or gym exercise program that suits their individual needs.

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