What Is the Meaning of Orthopedic Handicapped?

Some people with orthopedic handicaps walk with crutches.
Some people with orthopedic handicaps walk with crutches. (Image: handicap image by silonos from Fotolia.com)

The term “orthopedic” refers to impairments of the skeletal system, including the spine, other bones and associated muscles, according to the Dictionary.com website. Orthopedic handicaps are conditions of the skeletal system that limit a person’s abilities.


Orthopedic handicaps include bone diseases such as Paget's disease and osteogenesis imperfecta, spinal cord injuries, nerve injuries such as brachial plexus palsy, and congenital conditions such as cerebral palsy and spina bifida.


People with orthopedic handicaps usually have some difficulty with walking or movement. The severity depends on the type of orthopedic handicap they have. Problems may be minor, or individuals may have difficulty moving independently at all. Some conditions cause bones to break easily. People with orthopedic handicaps may have other disabilities as well. For instance, hearing loss often occurs in people with Paget’s disease.


People with orthopedic handicaps may require wheelchairs to get around. Medication or surgery can treat some conditions. Physical and occupational therapy helps people learn to function as independently as possible with their handicaps.

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