There are many causes of disabilities, including accidents and diseases. However, all physical handicaps fall within four main courses, steady, episodic, degenerating, and episodic degenerating types. Research shows that a physically challenged individuals’ social support falls apart as the handicap persists (Smart, 2016). This essay aims to discuss the various disability courses, different control measures patients can apply to manage them, and some reasons behind social support integration.
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One of the most common types of disability courses is the stable progression. In this disability type, the patient experiences symptoms that remain constant throughout the disability period, with no noticeable progression. Smart (2016) states that during this time, the physically handicapped individual undergoes a denial “more specifically the denial of the stability of the disability” (p. 320). For instance, the physically challenged individual will express an unfounded hope that they will heal from the disability. Smart (2016) also states that the patient delays, approximately 2 years, to believe the diagnosis. It takes the disabled person longer to accept their new reality because of the foreseen adjustments they would have to make onwards. In particular, a paralyzed individual would require to use a wheelchair to move from one point to another. Therefore, denial is a major hindrance in the disabled person’s adaptation process.
However, not all disabilities are stable; some physical challenges recur often. These types of handicaps are known as episodic courses and are unpredictable. For instance, Smart (2016) states that the patient experiences “a loss of control because he or she cannot predict when the episode with occur” (p. 321). People like to plan their lives ahead of time to ensure a smooth transition between activities. Therefore, it is difficult for physically challenged individuals to organize their activities because they cannot predict when the episodic handicap will occur. For instance, an individual who gets seizures often will have difficulties anticipating when the next attack will happen and this might prevent them from planning. Fortunately, these persons can take medication constantly to reduce the risk of the attacks reoccurring.
There are other disabilities whose symptoms worsen gradually when unmanaged. These handicaps are called degenerating courses and include diseases such as arthritis. Smart (2016) states that these illnesses have “symptoms that worsen over time and require careful monitoring of present symptoms” (p. 321). For instance, arthritis (which results from the destruction of body joints by the immune system) starts in the fingers and progresses to the knees and other body joints. The disease can immobilize the patient if not well managed, preventing them from fulfilling their daily duties. However, the progression of these symptoms reduces when the ill person takes the right medication and attends physical therapy. Therefore, it is important for the healthcare personnel to diagnose such disabilities early and commit the sick individual to the therapies to control their progression.
There are other disabilities that have both episodic degenerating courses. Patient’s suffering from such illnesses experience episodic symptoms, which worsen gradually. For instance, Apostolova (2016) states that patients with Alzheimer’s suffer “gradually progressive cognitive and functional deficits as well as behavioural changes” (p. 419). This condition results from the accumulation of beta amyloid proteins in the brain cells, particularly the memory region (Apostolova, 2016). In the initial stages, the patient loses brief memory occasionally and later regains it. However, as the disease worsens, the episodes lengthen and the ill person takes longer to recover their recollections. The memory type which degenerates also progresses from short episodic remembrance to the working and semantic memories. Such disabilities can be controlled by taking medication, which reduces degenerative diseases’ symptoms progression and frequency.
Patients of different disabilities experience dissimilar courses but similar social support disintegration. For instance, Smart (2016) cites an accident’s victim who stated that at the beginning “all the friends I had were right there… but one by one they kind of drifted away, slowly” (p. 318). The victim further suggests that the support reduced because the friends did not know how to deal with the patient’s current situation and the disabled person made it difficult for them to remain supportive (Smart, 2016). When a person has an accident and is disabled, they have a tough time adjusting to their new reality. They consequently become agitated and bitter, which makes it difficult for people to relate to them. Individuals also drift away because they do not know how to handle the patient’s disability. Gradually, the support disintegrates, and the victim is left to manage their physical challenge alone.
In conclusion, different disabilities have dissimilar courses, but patients suffer an identical gradual social integration after diagnosis. For instance, stable disabilities are characterized by permanent and constant symptoms, while episodic physical challenges’ signs occur regularly. Victims of degenerating disabilities also experience progressive illnesses, while those suffering from episodic-degenerating sicknesses show regular symptoms that worsen gradually. Physically challenged persons’ social support diminishes progressively as the physical challenge persists. This disintegration results from the victims’ inability to adapt to their new reality and friend’s incapacity to understand the disabled person’s needs.
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Apostolova, L. (2016). Alzheimer’s disease. CONTINUUM: Lifelong Learning in Neurology, 22(2), 419-434.
Smart, J. (2016). Disability, society, and the individual (3rd ed.). PRO-ED.