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Houston, Texas

People discussing health of women with disabilities
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Secondary Conditions--Weakness

Secondary Conditions Table of Contents

Weakness is a symptom of many primary disabling conditions, such as neuromuscular disorders or paralysis, but it is also a common condition secondary to arthritis in women.

  • According to a study involving interviews on definitions and meaning of health for women with physical disabilities, those whose disabling conditions were relapsing and remitting or degenerative tended to define health in terms of conditions that affect functioning, such as weakness, pain, or energy level.
  • In one survey of 443 women with physical disabilities, 63 percent reported experiencing a limitation due to weakness in the past three months. In fact, weakness ranked ninth in terms of severity on a list of 43 secondary and other health conditions.
  • Weakness impacts a woman's health promoting behaviors, such as exercise and healthy diet. For example, it may prevent some women from cooking or limits what they can cook to only those foods and cooking utensils they can lift or manipulate.
  • Weakness is a critical issue for many women with physical disabilities. Again, women with postpolio are at risk of developing overuse weakness when exercising the muscles most severely affected by the syndrome.
    • It is important that persons with postpolio are provided effective and accessible exercise programs that will offer the benefits of conditioning without risking additional muscle damage. Systems are being developed for physicians and therapists to help persons with polio use muscles that are least affected while resting the muscles that are continuing to weaken.
    • Overuse weakness is common among people with late onset manifestations of polio, and it is important that slowly progressive non-fatiguing exercise becomes as part of their rehabilitation.

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