Management of disabilities associated with achondroplasia

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      Achondroplasia is a skeletal dysplasia that manifests as short stature. Impairment and complications range over many disciplines including orthopedics, pediatrics, neurology, and otolaryngology. The major impairments of the extremities are short limbs, limited elbow and hip extension, and knee and leg deformities that can cause disabilities in arm function and locomotion. Hydrocephalus, a narrow foramen magnum, spinal deformity, and spinal canal stenosis can cause neurological problems, leading to disabilities in locomotion, communication, and learning. Malfunctions of the otolaryngeal system such as otitis media, upper respiratory obstruction, deafness, speech delay, and malocclusion are interrelated and can also lead to disabilities in communication and learning. Although such disabilities may cause social handicaps, most children receive a normal education. Their social maturity scale is comparable to that of normal children, but their scale of locomotion is not. The reported occupational level of female adult patients is lower than that of their unaffected siblings. When managing patients, orthopedists should consider the overall aspects of achondroplasia, including natural development and complications other than orthopedic factors.

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