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Motor control is your ability to create a motion – from something as small as moving a finger, to as big and complex as riding a bike. Problems with motor control – or a mobility impairment – affects how someone moves around to do things like eating, getting dressed, or walking down the street.

There are many steps to creating a motion. Something as simple as raising your hand involves all these steps:

  1. Thinking about raising your hand
  2. That message traveling along your nerves from your brain to your arm
  3. Action in the muscles of the arm to raise it smoothly and effectively
  4. Sending the message back to the brain that tells if the arm was raised.

Someone with a mobility disability can have difficulty at any one or more of these steps.

Common types of mobility disabilities are:

  • Cerebral Palsy. This is an injury to the brain of an infant at birth or just before birth. Someone with Cerebral Palsy may have problems with movement or with communicating by talking. How severe the problems are with movement or speech depends on what part of the brain is affected. People with this disease most often are able to understand things well and can go to school with their non-disabled friends.
  • Parkinson’s Disease. Parkinson’s Disease is a movement disorder caused by degenerative changes in the central nervous system. It occurs in a small percentage of the population, usually in older adults. It often starts off as a small tremor, or involuntary shaking in the hand, and can become much worse as the person gets older and the disease progresses. People with Parkinson’s Disease develop increasing rigidity, or stiffness, difficulty beginning movement or walking, smaller steps and a shuffling walk.
  • Spinal Cord Injury. The spinal cord is like the electrical wires that connect the brain to the body. When someone damages the spinal cord in an accident to his neck or back, the messages can no longer get from the brain to the muscles below the point of injury and the muscles become paralyzed.
    • Quadraplegia is paralysis in all four limbs and occurs when the damage to the spinal cord is in the neck.
    • Paraplegia is paralysis of both legs and occurs with spinal cord injuries to the mid to low back.

    People with Spinal Cord Injuries commonly use wheelchairs to get around. Some may require assistance for getting dressed, bathing, using the bathroom and getting around the community. Others can do these activities independently.

  • Stroke. The brain needs oxygen to work. A stroke is damage to the brain when it doesn’t get enough oxygen even for a short period. The parts of the body that are affected by a stroke depend on what part of the brain loses its oxygen supply. Generally, someone who has had a stroke has weakness of the leg and/or arm on only one side of her body

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Amy Purdy

Amy Purdy is a world-class snowboarder who won a Bronze medal at the 2014 Paralympic Games. Amy had both her legs amputated at age 19 because of a flu-like illness that affected her entire body. Amy was a semi-finalist on the 2014 Dancing With The Stars and with her partner, Derek Hough, showed us how to always look for the possibilities.

Learn more about Amy