Good nutrition plays a role in reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and certain cancers. It also reduces the risk of nutrient deficiencies which can occur in people with disabilities, especially those with feeding, chewing, or swallowing problems or who take certain medications. The following resources provide more information about nutrition and disabilities.

USDA Resource on Nutrition and Disability

Find information, tools and resources useful in providing nutrition education to individuals living with mental and physical disabilities.

Physical Activity

Individuals with disabilities can gain benefits from physical activity such as enhancing the functioning and health of their heart, lungs, muscles and bones. Flexibility, mobility and coordination can be improved, lessening the negative effects of some conditions or slowing the progression of others. Physical activity is fun and provides a chance to meet people and make new friends.

A little creativity, along with adaptive or customized equipment, can make almost any activity possible, including swimming, horseback riding, cycling, waterskiing, and even rock climbing. People with all types of disabilities–physical, cognitive or developmental can participate.

National Center on Physical Activity and Disability

A wealth of information on physical activity for people with disabilities including exercise guidelines, factsheets on many popular activities, games, recreational pursuits and sports that have been adapted to allow people with disabilities to participate as fully as they wish, how to find a certified inclusive fitness instructor and much more.

Promoting the Participation of Children with Disabilities in Sports, Recreation, and Physical Activities

Clinical report from the American Academy of Pediatrics discusses the importance of physical activity, recreation, and sports participation for children with disabilities and offers practical suggestions to pediatric health care professionals for the promotion of participation.

Adapted Physical Education Resource Manual

The manual offers information and resources related to adapted physical education.

PE Central

Resources for teachers and school personnel on adapted physical education including skill assessment instruments, lesson plans, research, national standards and including physical education in students’ Individual Educational Plan.

Disabled Sports USA

Network of nationwide sports rehabilitation programs including winter skiing, water sports, summer and winter competitions, fitness and special sports events.

National Ability Center: Adaptive Recreation for People with Disabilities

The National Ability Center is committed to the development of lifetime skills for people of all ages and abilities by providing affordable outdoor sports and recreational experiences in a nurturing environment.

Inclusive Fitness Coalition

The mission of the Inclusive Fitness Coalition is to facilitate an expanded coordination of organizations and individuals to address the complexity of personal, social, cultural, political, and economic factors that influence -positively and negatively – the participation of people with disabilities in physical activity, fitness, sports and recreation.

Oral Health

The oral health problems of individuals with disabilities are complex. These problems may be due to the disability itself as well as to the inability to receive the personal and professional health care needed to maintain oral health. Lack of dental insurance or the inability to pay out of pocket and problems of access contribute to this problem. Also, people with certain disabilities might require a dentist who is specifically trained in treating people with disabilities; however, these specialists are not found in every community.

The American Academy of Pediatrics found that dental care is the most prevalent unmet health care need for children with special health care needs, affecting substantially more children than any other health care need category. Read the full article in the Journal of Pediatrics, 2005.

We are learning more and more about the importance of oral health to overall health and well-being. Numerous studies have demonstrated an association between periodontal diseases and diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and adverse pregnancy outcomes—ailments that people with disabilities are at higher risk for to begin with.

Find dental services near you!

Dental Life Line Network

The Dental Life Line Network is a national nonprofit organization, founded in 1974, to provide access to dental care and education for people who cannot afford it and have a permanent disability, or who are elderly or medically fragile.


Complete listing of state government sponsored dental programs.

University based dental schools often have free or low cost dental clinics that serve people in their communities. This list contains all accredited dental education programs in the United States.

The Grottoes of North America Humanitarian Foundation

The “Special Smiles” program helps cover the costs of dental treatment, including hospital and anesthesia costs, when needed, for children with cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and related neuromuscular disorders, those with mental retardation, and organ transplant recipients.

Women’s Health

Women with disabilities sometimes experience barriers when it comes to routine screening and wellness exams. These barriers include problems in accessing health care and the lack of providers who are informed about health in the context of disabilities.

The Center for Research on Women with Disabilities (CROWD), reports that women with disabilities are often denied reproductive and other types of health care, or given substandard care compared to women with uncomplicated health care needs. Several studies have documented the lack of health insurance among women with disabilities.

Women with Disabilities Education Program

The Education Program pursues two parallel tracts: a self-management curriculum for patients and a training curriculum for health professionals. It provides comprehensive information about receiving appropriate and effective health care and materials that describe the latest evidence-based research and recommendations regarding the specific health needs of women with disabilities.


Women with Disabilities

General information for women with disabilities


A Providers Guide for the Care of Women with Physical Disabilities and Chronic Medical Conditions (PDF)

The guide is designed for clinicians to improve their knowledge and practice in providing care to women with physical disabilities and chronic health conditions. It includes information on access to general medical care, removing common barriers, comprehensive reproductive health care and health promotion and wellness.

Many women with cerebral palsy and other disabilities have had healthy and successful pregnancies. However, just as with any pregnancy, the mother with a disability will require regular monitoring by a specialist to ensure that the pregnancy is progressing as planned and the baby is doing well. The abilities and resources that the mother with a disability has are the best determinants of how well she will be able to take care of the child after delivery.

The following Web sites offer information about pregnancy and parenting with a disability:

Through the Looking Glass: National Center for Parents with Disabilities

The National Center empowers parents and potential parents with disabilities by disseminating disability-appropriate information regarding parenting to parents, disability advocates, and legal, medical, intervention and social services providers. Their overall goal is to increase information and support more disability-appropriate resources for parents with disabilities and their children throughout the U.S.

Research suggests that women with disabilities are more likely to experience domestic violence, emotional abuse, and sexual assault than women without disabilities. Women with disabilities may also feel more isolated and feel they are unable to report the abuse, or they may be dependent on the abuser for their care. Like many women who are abused, women with disabilities are usually abused by someone they know, such as a partner or family member.

Resources on Violence and Women with Disabilities from CROWD

Reports, statistics, and research on violence and women with disabilities.

Violence Against Women with Disabilities

Resources from the US Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health.

Breast Cancer Screening: The Right to Know Campaign

Health promotion materials from the CDC designed to increase awareness of breast cancer among women with physical disabilities and encourage these women to get screened.


People with disabilities face the same challenges as other members of the community when it comes to safety at home, work, on the move, emergency preparedness, and injury and violence prevention. However, people with disabilities face additional challenges as well.

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