Arch Dis Child doi:10.1136/archdischild-2012-302839
  • Review

Adolescents with physical disability: seeing the individual in context

  1. Catherine Tuffrey
  1. Correspondence to Dr Catherine Tuffrey, Child Health Services, Unit A4, Alpha Court, Segensworth Business Centre, Fareham, Hampshire PO15 5RQ, UK; tuffrey{at}
  • Received 14 November 2012
  • Revised 17 February 2013
  • Accepted 20 February 2013
  • Published Online First 12 March 2013


Adolescence is a time of profound developmental change—socially, cognitively and psychologically. Although we know that many young people with a variety of long-term conditions negotiate adolescence with no more difficulty than other young people, those with physical disabilities can face barriers to their development in a number of areas. While many of these may not affect their physical health directly, it is important for health professionals to take a holistic view and remember that, as with other areas of child development, opportunities lost at critical periods may have later consequences. We need to anticipate potential difficulties early and discuss them with young people, parents and other professionals if we are to best improve outcomes for this group of patients.

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