Orthopedic Impairment (OI)

Definition and Classification

According to the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), Orthopedic Impairment is

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defined as a severe orthopedic impairment that adversely affects a child’s educational

performance. The term includes impairments caused by a congenital anomaly, impairments

caused by disease (e.g., poliomyelitis, bone tuberculosis), and impairments from other causes

(e.g., cerebral palsy, amputations, and fractures or burns that cause contractures). (IDEA, 2004)


Orthopedic impairments are divided into three main areas, neuromotor impairments,

degenerative diseases, and musculoskeletal disorders. Neuromotor impairments is the

abnormality or damage to the spinal cord, brain or nerves that send impulses to the muscles of

the body. Degenerative diseases are diseases that affect motor movement of the body.

Musculoskeletal disorders are muscles or bones diseases or defects.


Causes for Orthopedic impairment can be due to a few different reasons. The main reason

for orthopedic impairments includes but are not limited to musculoskeletal disorders, neuromotor

impairments, degenerative diseases, and orthopedic impairments from other causes. Some causes

for orthopedic impairments due to other causes are burns so severe they affect the muscles and

bones, amputation, and injury from an accident.


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