The general public, and even those with hidden mobility disabilities (HMD), may view the consequences of having to walk too far or stand too long as relatively trivial or benign. Research data, however, confirm that there can be serious health consequences. Here are the percentages of people with HMD who report the following consequences if they walk beyond what is comfortable for them:
- 77% Increased joint pain
- 52% Walk more slowly until almost not moving
- 46% Increased difficulty breathing
- 43% Have trouble walking at all the next day
- 40% Begin to stagger and lose balance
- 31% Become immobilized by pain
- 29% Increased muscle spasms
While some people with HMD can control joint pain with anti-inflammatory medication, 22% of those surveyed reported that, for medical reasons, they could not take anti-inflammatory medication.
This can be a life or death issue. Among the most serious incidents, a woman with a hidden mobility disability who had requested wheelchair assistance but been pressured by airline staff to walk fell backwards on an escalator to her death at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.