Disability and Biokinetics

people with physical disability can improve quality of life with biokinetics at fish and field biokineticists

Disability is defined as a physical or mental condition which limits one’s movements, senses or activities. It is estimated that there are 1.2 billion people worldwide living with a form of disability.

Types of Disabilities

There are four main categories of disabilities:

  • Physical – affecting a person’s physical mobility and capability.
  • Intellectual – affecting a person’s ability to communicate, think, learn or retain information.
  • Mental – affecting a person’s emotions and behaviour.
  • Sensory – affecting a person’s senses in terms of sight, hearing, smelling, touching, tasting and spatial awareness.

The cause of one’s disability can vary. Some disabilities are as a result of genetics, foetal development or birthing complications. While others may be due to events in later life such as accidents, traumatic experiences, poor lifestyle choices or chronic disease development.

The term disability is a broad category. And as there are different types of disabilities, there are different symptoms and effects on a person. Some disabilities may appear to be more manageable and able to combat. Whereas others may be more permanent and require life-long support.

Activities of Daily Living (ADL)

Activities of daily living (ADL) are basic activities necessary for independent living both at home and in society. One’s level of independence is based on one’s ability to perform such tasks. There are five general types of ADL’s:

  • Personal hygiene – bathing, showering, grooming and basic care.
  • Dressing – being able to chose appropriate clothing and dress and undress oneself.
  • Eating – ability to feed oneself.
  • Maintaining continence – being physically and mentally able to use the restroom.
  • Transferring/mobility – being able to stand from a chair, getting in and out of bed and moving independently from one place to another.

There are also other types of daily activities, known as instrumental daily activities, that may not be needed on a daily basis, however are also important in one’s independence and functioning in society. Such activities include basic communication skills, transportation, meal preparation, shopping, housework, managing medications/health and managing finances.

Having a disability may affect one’s ability to perform both types of daily activities. For those with disabilities, ADLs can be modified, in terms of teaching a different way of doing so or use of assistive devices, to allow those with disabilities to carry out these everyday activities and maintain a level of independence.

Biokinetics and Disabilities

Sedentary lifestyles, often associated with disabilities, can lead to further deconditioning and health risk. Those who have a disability are less likely to participate in physical activity, due to barriers related to their disability. Biokineticists can aid in addressing such barriers by individualising an exercise program to allow these participants to partake in an appropriate modality and volume of exercise. Those with disabilities are often required to get clearance from their treating doctors before commencing exercise for safety reasons.

Exercise offers numerous benefits to the disabled population in terms of health, maintaining body composition, preventing secondary conditions and improving physical functioning and ability. Participating in exercise not only offers physical benefits, but also improves mental well-being, reduces stress, improves mood, reduces anxiety and depression, improve self-esteem, improve quality of life and can aid socialising and functioning in society.

Biokinetics therapy can play a role in the multidisciplinary approach for those with disabilities. One’s disability does not define them, and there are professions such as biokinetics, occupational therapy and physiotherapy that play a role in disability rehabilitation and allowing one to optimise their functional ability with their disability.


Aruma. (2019). Types of disabilities. Available from: https://www.aruma.com.au/about-us/about-disability/types-of-disabilities/

Centre of Disease Control and Prevention. (1999). Persons with Disabilities. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/sgr/disab.htm#:~:text=Benefits%20of%20Physical%20Activity,-Reduces%20the%20risk&text=Can%20help%20people%20with%20chronic,and%20pain%20associated%20with%20arthritis.

Paying for Senior Care. (2021). What are Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)? Available from: https://www.payingforseniorcare.com/activities-of-daily-living

Physiopedia. (2022). Physical Activity for Individuals with Disabilities. Available from: https://www.physio-pedia.com/Physical_Activity_in_Individuals_with_Disabilities

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