Definition Of Terms

Cerebral Palsy


Cerebral Palsy describes a group of permanent disorders of the development of movement and posture causing activity limitation that is attributed to non- progressive disturbances that occurred in the developing fetal or infant brain. The motor disorders of cerebral palsy are often accompanied by disturbances of sensation, cognition, perception, communication, behaviour, by epilepsy and by secondary musculoskeletal problems.



Spasticity is a motor disorder characterized by muscle hypertonia characterized by an abnormal and increased response to rapid stretch, increased on voluntary effort and movement and occurring in disorganized fashion both in agonists and antagonists of an intended motor act. Along with increased deep tendon reflexes and upgoing plantar responses spasticity is part of the clinical complex indicating an “upper motor neuron lesion” or insult to the motor cortex.


Autistic Spectrum Disorder


The autistic spectrum disorders are a heterogeneous group of neuro-behavioural syndromes characterized by major impairments in basic social relationships, abnormal language development, limited or non existent imagination and extremely rigid patterns of behaviour. The term “spectrum” implies a range of severity from mild, allowing close to normal functions in many areas, to the most severe in which social function appears to be impossible, but they're always deficits in the “core triad” of socialization, communication and imagination, and restricted behavior. There is no single cause for these disorders, although a genetic influence is most frequently found. The disorders result from abnormal brain development.


Mental Retardation


A number of terms including “intellectual impairment”, “cognitive impairment”, “mental handicap” and “learning difficulty” are used to describe individuals whose natural reasoning abilities, “common sense” and ability to look after themselves independently, are because of abnormalities of or early injury to the brain, insufficient to allow independent function in society. Mental retardation is a disability characterized by significant limitations both in intellectual function and in adaptive behavior as expressed in conceptual social and practical adaptive skills.


Community-Based Rehabilitation


A strategy within community development for the rehabilitation, equalization of opportunities and social integration of all people with disabilities. (UN definition)


Assistive Technology (AT)


AT is “any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of a child with a disability” - – 20 USC 1401

Assistive technology is a generic term that includes assistive, adaptive, and rehabilitative devices and the process used in selecting, locating, and using them. AT promotes greater independence for people with disabilities by enabling them to perform tasks that they were formerly unable to accomplish or had great difficulty accomplishing, by providing enhancements to or changed methods of interacting with the technology needed to accomplish such tasks. Although, Cook & Hussey (2001)[1] report this term is usually not used for rehabilitative devices and for devices that able-bodied find useful. According to disability advocates, technology is often created without regard to people with disabilities, creating unnecessary barriers to hundreds of millions of people.