Intellectual and physical disabilities

What are physical and intellectual disabilities?

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), disabilities is “an umbrella term covering impairments, activity limitations and participation restrictions. It involves the negative relations between an individual (with a health condition) and their contextual factors (environmental and personal factors)”.

There are currently 3.85 million people with disabilities residing in Spain, representing 9% of the population, of which 58.8% are women. The most common causes of disability are related to joints (39.3%), hearing (23.8%), sight (21%) and the mind (19%).

Types of disability depend on how the person is affected, with the most significant being intellectual, physical and sensory.

Physical disabilities:

Physical disabilities generally involve the body and the organs. They include those to have originated in the musculoskeletal, immune, nervous, respiratory, digestive, genitourinary, cardiovascular and endocrine systems, skin and malignancies. If they affect sight, the throat, hearing or the structures related to language, they are known as sensory disabilities.

Causes are varied, and include congenital, hereditary or chromosomal factors, problems during pregnancy or birth, accidents and the impacts of degenerative, neuromuscular, infectious and metabolic diseases, among others.

Intellectual or mental disabilities:

According to the American Association on Mental Retardation (AAMR), an intellectual disability is a “disability characterised by significant limitations both in intellectual functioning and in adaptive behaviour as expressed in conceptual, social and practical adaptive skills”.

To be defined as such, an intellectual disability must have originated before the individual turned 18, although most emerge during pregnancy, whether due to genetics or complications during labour. In older children, they occur through serious head injuries, cerebrovascular accidents or infections.

Intellectual disabilities are assessed and diagnosed according to:

Intellectual functioning, with intelligence defined as general mental capacity. Individuals experience difficulty in understanding complex or rational ideas or are slow learners.
Adaptive behaviour, which refers to the set of skills required for personal development in everyday life.


In both cases, people with disabilities may require assistance and care according to the severity of the condition. SARquavitae offers a variety of services specially designed ranging from domiciliary care, medical and nursing domiciliary care, telecare, convalescence and rehabilitation centres, day centres, sheltered housing or nursing homes specialised in care for the disabled.

SARquavitae is specialised in caring for people with intellectual and physical disabilities and works alongside different authorities to offer care by means of homes, day centres and sheltered housing.

Units specialised in intellectual and physical disability care

SARquavitae offers units specialised in intellectual and physical disability care.

Other SARquavitae services which may interest you: convalescence and rehabilitation, telecare and domiciliary assistance.

Search for our nursing homes and centres specialised in intellectual and physical disability care

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