What is a Neurological Impairment?

AccessAbility Services What is a Neurological Impairment?

Toolkit for Staff Home | Inclusive Teaching Strategies| Appropriate Language | Reasonable Adjustments | Disclosure and Confidentiality | Legislation | University Support Services| FAQ’s | A – Z Index|

Students with a Neurological Impairment - A Guide for Staff


The nervous system (brain, spinal cord and nerves) is one of the main control centres of the body. If a part of the neurological system is not functioning correctly it can cause disruptions and impact on a person's level of functioning. Symptoms vary greatly depending on the area of nervous system that is affected by a disease or condition.

Components of the Nervous System

Nervous System components are: Brain  Spinal Cord Peripheral nervous systems


There is a wide range of neurological conditions that may result in physical impairment including:

  1. Epilepsy

Common Triggers:

  • Flickering or flashing lights (e.g. computer screens, PowerPoint presentations)

  • Stress

  • Increase in temperature; indoors or outdoors

  • Infections and illnesses

More Info

What to do if a student has a seizure?

2. Spina Bifida

Spina bifida occurs when the spinal cord (nerve tissue which connects the brain to the rest of the body) does not form correctly during foetal development.

More Info

Picture representation of Spina Bifida

Adapted from: http://www.sbawi.org/what-is-spina-bifida.html

3. Cerebral Palsy

Did You Know? In Australia it is estimated one baby is born with CP every 18 hrs - 1 in 400 births

Cerebral Palsy is a result of changes in, or damage to, the brain usually before or during childbirth or sometimes in early childhood.

More Info

Picture of the types of cerebral palsy

Adapted from: http://www.livingwith cerebralpalsy.com/cerebral-conditions.php

4. Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) affects the transmission of nerve impulses to the brain, spinal cord and optic nerve. MS occurs when the myelin sheath surrounding the nerve fibres becomes damaged resulting in impairment of motor, sensory and cognitive functions.

More Info

Picture of the effect of MS

Adapted from: http://repairstemcell.wordpress.com/2009/02/08/

<Previous / Next>

What is a Ph y sical Condition? | Impacts on Study | Communication Strategies | Teaching and Assessment Strategies | AccessAbility Services Support | Additional Resources | Acknowledgements|