Impairment Disability Disease and Health

The concept of impairment is closely related to the concepts of disease and health. Health commonly is defined as the absence of disease. Chistopher Boorse (1977) defines disease as an impairment of or limitation on functional ability, identifying disease with impairment. (However, he gives a statistically based account of functional ability, which was rejected here.) Norman Daniels (1985) defines disease as a deviation from the natural functional organization of a typical member of the species. He says that in characterizing "natural functional organization," the biomedical sciences draw on evolutionary notions and "claims about the design of the species" (p. 28), yielding an account of what is humanly normal that is close to the account given here. Thus, disease and impairment are nearly equivalent. Impairment is a slightly wider category because it includes the absence of a structure, and this usually is not called a disease. An amputee may be healthy (free of disease), yet that person is impaired.

Disability has been defined as an impairment-caused disadvantageous restriction on the ability to perform normal human activities or to perform them within the normal range. Because diseases are a subset of impairments, many diseases are causes of disability provided that they impose a disadvantage on the persons who have them. Thus, an infection is both a disease and an impairment, and it may cause disability (temporary or permanent) by disadvantageously reducing the ability of an afflicted person to perform humanly normal activities. Nondisease impairments such as the absence of a limb also may cause disability.

Anxiety and Depression 101

Anxiety and Depression 101

Everything you ever wanted to know about. We have been discussing depression and anxiety and how different information that is out on the market only seems to target one particular cure for these two common conditions that seem to walk hand in hand.

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