Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

2018 Edition
| Editors: Jeffrey S. Kreutzer, John DeLuca, Bruce Caplan


  • Ana MillsEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-57111-9_1190


There is no universally agreed-upon definition of disability. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), disability is an umbrella term that includes any impairment, activity limitation, and participation restriction that limits an individual’s functioning (WHO 2017). An impairment is a “problem in body function or structure.” An activity limitation is a “difficulty encountered by an individual in executing a task or action.” A participation restriction is “a problem experienced by an individual in involvement in life situations.” Disability is conceptualized broadly as a phenomenon that is produced by the interaction of the individual with a health condition and that individual’s contextual factors (environmental and personal). Etiology can be developmental or acquired.

Current Knowledge

Prevalence of Disability

There is significant variability in international disability rates due to methodical differences such as definition and data collection. In a study of 19...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References and Readings

  1. Barnes, C., & Mercer, G. (Eds.). (2010). Exploring disability. Malden: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  2. Granger, C. V. (1998). The emerging science of functional assessment: Our tool for outcomes analysis. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 79(3), 235–240.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  3. Palmer, M., & Harley, D. (2012). Models and measurement in disability: An international review. Health Policy and Planning, 27, 357–364.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  4. Rappaport, M., Hall, K. M., Hopkins, K., Belleza, T., & Cope, D. N. (1982). Disability rating scale for severe head trauma: Coma to community. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 63, 118–123.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  5. WHO. Disabilities. Retrieved 18 June 2017, from http://www.who.int/topics/disabilities/en/
  6. WHO. WHO disability assessment schedule 2.0. Retrieved 18 June 2017 from http://www.who.int/classifications/icf/whodasii/en/
  7. WHO. (2001). International classification of functioning, disability and health. Geneva: World Health Organization.Google Scholar
  8. WHO. (2011). World report on disability. Geneva: World Health Organization.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Physical Medicine and RehabilitationVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA