Arthritis remains the leading cause of disability among adults

According to CDC statistics from 2005 (Prevalence and Most Common Causes of Disability Among Adults --- United States, 2005), arthritis remains the leading cause of disability among adults. 11% of men and 24% of women suffer from arthritis. If you are a medical professional, arthritis have a significant impact on your ability to manipulate medical equipment, care for patients, enter information into a computer, and much more.

The CDC Arthritis Program examines disabilities and limitations in the following ways:

1. Arthritis-Attributable limitations. Everyone in this group has arthritis and reports that their arthritis is responsible for specific limitations:
  • Arthritis-Attributable Activity Limitations (AAAL)
  • Arthritis-Attributable Work Limitations (AAWL)
  • Arthritis-Attributable Social Participation Restriction (AASPR)
2. Specific functional limitations. These limitations make up a group of common daily activities that many people with arthritis report are "very difficult" or that they "cannot do" them. The activities are:
  • grasp small objects;
  • reach above one's head;
  • sit more than 2 hours;
  • lift or carry 10 pounds;
  • climb a flight of stairs;
  • push a heavy object;
  • walk a 1/4 mile;
  • stand more than 2 hours;
  • stoop, bend, or kneel
3. Defining Disability. As mentioned above, disability definitions often vary based on the survey used and other criteria. The CDC Arthritis Program uses data and information from several sources to characterize disability among adults with arthritis.
  • General disability: A typical case-finding question would be: "Because of a physical or mental health condition, [do you] have difficulty doing any of the following by yourself?" followed by a list of various activities.
  • Participation restriction: This is a concept developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as part of their International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF), a framework that reflects impairments, activity limitations, environment, personal factors, and participation restriction as interconnected components on a continuum of functioning. Participation restriction refers to experiencing difficulties in life situations and is an umbrella term for disability. The concept of participation restriction can be applied to various settings and situations to evaluate capacity to engage (or not) in life situations. For example, participation restriction could be measured in domestic life, work and employment, and community, social, and civic life, among other areas. Social participation restriction reflects limitation in the ability to engage in social activities and situations. Community participation restriction reflects limitation in the ability to engage in community activities and/or the physical community itself. Because ability is influenced by environment, external characteristics of a person's environment are ideally considered when evaluating participation restriction. Furthermore, the ICF framework recognizes that accommodations and adaptations may cancel out limitations—for example, a cane and a ramp may provide access to community events and facilities.

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