Persons with Hidden Mobility Disability (HMD) Facts and Statistics
Synopsis: HMD Fact Sheet summarizes findings from the first round of qualified individuals who completed the online Survey on Hidden Mobility Disabilities.1
Author: Service-Growth Consultants Inc. Contact: servicegrowth.com
Published: 2017-03-24 Updated: 2017-10-19
First ever research into lived experience of persons with hidden mobility disabilities (HMD) - i.e., able to walk independently but only for a short distance and able to stand unsupported but only for a brief time.
Persons with a hidden mobility disability (HMD) are independently mobile but can only walk a short distance or stand unsupported for a brief time without serious health consequences.
Over 2 million Americans & Canadians have HMD.
While HMD is more frequent with aging, people of all ages have HMD and the consequences are similar for all ages.
Comfortable distance to walk unaided:
- 35 feet is walkable for most ["short distance"]
- 70 feet is walkable for 56%
Walking is more effortful on slopes, unstable or uneven ground (like grass), going up/down stairs.
Comfortable time to stand unaided:
- 1-2 minutes is possible for most ["brief time"]
- 5 minutes is possible for 66%
Common health conditions resulting in HMD:
- Back, disc, vertebrae problems
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
- Heart disease
- Hip or knee injuries
- Multiple sclerosis
- Myasthenia gravis
- Parkinson's disease
Reactions to a person with HMD walking slowly:
- 45% Ignored, as though invisible
- 30% Asked if the person needed help
- 20% Treated with anger or irritation
Consequences of walking too far:
- 76% Increased joint pain
- 52% Walk more slowly until almost not moving
- 45% Increased difficulty breathing
- 42% Have trouble walking at all the next day
- 39% Begin to stagger and lose balance
- 31% Become immobilized by pain
- 27% Increased muscle spasms
21% can't use anti-inflammatories to manage pain.
Difficulties in community life:
- 83% Attending events where everyone stands
- 78% Having to stand in line for service
- 76% Shopping at a supermarket or mall
- 55% Using public transportation
- 43% Entering buildings with parking 35 ft. away
- 42% Check-in counter 35+ ft. from entrance
- Resist walking further than comfortable
- Ask to sit down for service
- Ask for wheelchair assistance in airports
- Pause frequently to sit and recuperate
Examples of how to improve accessibility:
- Assume "short distance" means 35 feet
- Ensure horizontal, smooth, stable walkway
- Replace waiting lines with numbers
- Provide seated options for service
- Provide seating while waiting for elevators
- Provide seating in building lobbies near doors
- Provide seating every 35 ft. in long corridors
- Hold seated public consultations
- Provide public parking within 35 feet
- Place disabled parking within 20 ft. of elevator
This Fact Sheet is based on results from the Survey on Hidden Mobility Disabilities, January-March 2017, which are reliable within ± 4 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.
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