"Reflective Professionals Building Learning Communities"


COUN 434: Medical & Psychosocial Aspects of Disability


Name: Dr. Ken Currier, Ph.D., CRC
Office: CLS 4097
Phone number: (773) 442-5576 (office); (773) 588-1829 (home); (773) 213-4114 (cell)
E-mail: [email protected]; (preferred)


This course involves the study of medical information on a wide range of disabilities from systems perspective. The psychological, social, and vocational implications of the experience of the various disorders will be integrated into the course. Medical terminology, medical specialty practices and health care systems providing diagnosis, treatment, restorative services, or therapy to individuals with disabilities will be discussed. The course, nature, etiology, effects and prognosis of physical, sensory, mental, neurological, developmental, and other disability/disease processes will be covered. Case studies of system related disabilities will be presented with emphasis on understanding the psychosocial, functional and vocational implications of disease, congenital and adventitious disability.


Admission to the counseling program


Brodwin, M. G., Brown, S. & Tellez, F. (Eds.). (2002). Medical, psychological, and vocational aspects of disability (2nd Ed.). Athens, GA: Elliot & Fitzpatrick. ISBN 0-945019-82-3


Falvo, D. (1999). Medical and psychosocial aspects of chronic illness and disability (2nd ed.). Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett.
Zaretsky, H.H., Richter, E.F., & Eisenberg, M.G. (Eds.). (2005). Medical aspects of disability: A handbook for the rehabilitation professional (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company. ISBN 0-8261-7973-8
Venes, D., Thoma, D.L., & Taber, C.W. (2005). Taber’s cyclopedic medical dictionary – 20th Edition. Philadelphia: F.A. Davis Company.

The Merck Manual
The Healthweb
Medical Dictionaries
Online dictionaries:

Other materials and handouts will be placed on reserve and/or provided on the Blackboard Website. Additionally, there are a multitude of websites that the student will become familiar and adept at accessing for ongoing information and learning related to this course subject.

All students must have a working E-mail account and access to a computer as well as enroll in the Blackboard version of this course to enhance learning and instruction.


Lecture/discussion and web-enhanced or web-based instruction along with guest speakers, group activities, and community-based activities and observations.


The objectives of this course support the College of Education Performance Standard #5 Instruction and are also linked to the CORE (Council on Rehabilitation Education) standards C.2, C.3, and C.9. These objectives will enable students to

1. gain knowledge of the human body system;

2. acquire proficiency in understanding and using medical terminology;

3. understand the medical, functional, and vocational aspects of physical disability and disease;

4. obtain knowledge of the treatment options of various physical disabilities and disease;

5. be able to read and understand medical reports and to interpret the functional implications of medical reports and functional capacity evaluations;

6. become familiar with the various medical specialty areas and to identify specialized medical services in the rehabilitation service provider's community;

7. understand current assistive technologies available to persons with disability that might augment, assist, or circumvent major life activities including communications, mobility, sensory enhancement, information access/learning, prosthetic and orthotic devices;

8. understand basic medical models of service including managed care, preferred providers organizations, and community based medical programs;

9. understand the unique needs of persons with co occurring diagnoses;

10. understand the concept of functional capacity and its implications for facilitating work;

11. obtain skill and knowledge in life care planning; and

12. gain competency in wellness and illness prevention concepts and strategies.

Student Outcomes as demonstrated by the ability to: (each outcome is followed by its corresponding CORE Curriculum standard code)

1. Explain basic medical aspects of the human body system and disabilities C.9.1

2. Access resources for researching disability information C.9.2

3. Explain functional capacity implications of medical and psychosocial information C.9.3

4. Determine the need for assistive technology and the appropriate intervention resources C.9.4

5. Apply working knowledge of the impact of disability on the individual, the family, and the environment C.9.5

6. Support consumer empowerment and advocacy as it relates to medical treatment C.9.6

7. Utilize existing or acquired information about the existence, onset, severity, progression, and expected duration of an individual's disability C.9.7

8. Consult with medical professionals regarding functional capacities, prognosis, and treatment plans for consumers C.9.8

9. Practice in a manner that shows an understanding of the environmental and attitudinal barriers to individuals with disabilities C.2.4

10. Identify and articulate an understanding of the social, economic, and environmental forces that may present barriers to a consumer's rehabilitation C.2.6

11. Explain basic medical aspects of the human body system and disabilities C.9.1

12. Access resources for researching disability information C.9.2 13. Explain functional capacity implications of medical and psychosocial information C.9.3

13. Determine the need for assistive technology and the appropriate intervention resources C.9.4

14. Apply working knowledge of the impact of disability on the individual, the family, and the environment C.9.5

15. Assess an individual's need for rehabilitation engineering/technology services throughout the rehabilitation process C.7.7 and

16. Assess the environment and make modifications for reasonable accommodations. C.7.8


Students will submit two written reports (see below); respond to Case Study questions weekly via the Bb Discussion Board (see end of each chapter); complete a terminology exam at 80% or above; a take home final exam completed; and participate in oral discussions in class based on the text readings. These assignments satisfy the performance-based assessment component of the course.


Take home final exam 100 points
Bb Activities 12 @ 10 pts each 120 points
Terminology Exam 100 points
Reports 2 @ 50 pts each 100 points
Total 520 points

Reports may include:

1. An individual or group site visit to a Community-based rehabilitation program with a subsequent report of 2 3 pages, typewritten using APA format. These areas should be covered: a) What types of disabilities are served? b) What services are provided? c) What specific professionals are employed with RIC? d) How are customers obtained/referred? e) What was your overall impression? A form will be provided as a guideline for your report.

2. An interview with a person, family or family member that has experienced the onset of a severe disability. The goals for the interview include: a) an understanding of the psychological adjustment to the disability on cognitive, affective, and behavioral levels; b) how did the system respond to their needs? How did other members of the community respond? For example, medical professionals, clergy, friends, neighbors, other family members, fellow workers/employer, c) how was the person's self concept modified, if at all? How did the individual see himself or herself as a result? Were/are there any long lasting psychological affects such as may be seen with PTSD (nightmares, substance abuse, hostility/aggression)? d) How has the person(s) compensated for the disability? e) Finally, summarize the experience by reflecting on a personal level: did the experience and knowledge obtained change your perceptions, attitudes, or beliefs about persons with disability? Were any myths or stereotypes dispelled or reinforced? Ten extra points will be given for conducting the interview with an individual or family from a different culture than your own. Explain in the report how this person(s) is/are culturally different? Do you think that this person(s) experienced the disability differently in their culture than your own?

3. A report on an assistive technology from among the following:

a. Augmentative communication device
b. JAWS, Dragon speak or other text to voice or voice to text software
c. Adaptive sport (beach, ski, sailing, golf, beep ball)
d. Adaptive keyboards
e. Real time captioning
f. Alternative listening devices
g. Universal design
h. Universal instructional design (UID)/Universal Design for Learning (UDL)
i. TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation)
j. Mechanical ventilators/breathing training
k. Pressure garments
l. Catheterization options and bladder/bowel management
m. Subcutaneous pumps
n. Seating and positioning systems
o. Orthoses/prostheses
p. Service animals
q. Ergonomics (specify a context e.g. office, assembly line, health care)
r. Electric wheelchairs (include gel seating pad of other prevention cushions)

4. The psychological and social aspects of adjusting to a disability. Integrate information from your personal interview with a person with a disability.

Note: Guidelines, criteria, and resources will be provided in a handout.


A = 90-99% of total points D = 60-69% of total points
B = 80-89% of total points F = below 60% of total points
C = 70-79% of total points


Assessment of learning begins in the initial class session and is on going throughout the course. Data from the specific assessment tools will be analyzed and the results used to improve instruction and facilitate increased student learning. This feedback may be used to make adjustments in the course as it progresses and to implement future changes.


In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Northeastern Illinois University does not discriminate against employees or students on the basis of disability. In addition, the university provides reasonable accommodations for both employees and students with disability. Students seeking reasonable accommodations in the classroom should contact the Accessibility Center/HELP, A 118 (phone 773/442 5495, 5496, or 5497; TDD 773/442 5499).

The University Policy on Services for Students with Disabilities may be found at: Students should feel free to meet with the instructor, in confidence, at any time to discuss any reasonable accommodations or removal of barriers that may be hinder full inclusion and participation in the course and their learning experience.


All students are expected to attend all class meetings and to submit assigned materials by the due date. Students are expected to conduct themselves professionally and ethically, respecting individual differences, needs, opinions, and the confidentiality of others. Attendance is vital to learning success. Students may miss two class meetings without penalty. The third missed class (for any reason) will result in the loss of one grade (grade of B or less in the course); Four missed class meetings will result in course failure (grade of F).

Week Topic Assignment Due

Week 1
Sept 1 Orientation and Introduction
Week 2
Sept 8 Human body systems
Models of Healthcare: Medical, Rehabilitation, Biopsychosocial
Medical Terminology Chapters 1 & 2
Practice Bb Activity
Week 3
Sept 15
Drug Abuse & Alcoholism
Chapters 3 & 4
Bb Activity

Week 4
Sept 22 Sexuality & Disability
HIV/AIDS Chapter 5 & 6
Bb Activity #1
Week 5
Sept 29 Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery
Facial Difference
Terminology Quiz Chapter 7 & 8

Week 5
Oct 6
Psychiatric Disabilities
Mental Retardation
Learning Disabilities Chapter 9, 10, & 30
Bb Activity #2
Week 6
Oct 13
Sensory Disabilities (Hearing/Vision)
Midterm Chapters 12 & 13
Bb Activity
Week 7
Oct 20
Systemic Diseases: Cancer, Hemophilia, Sickle Cell, Diabetes, Rheumatic Diseases Chapters 14, 15, 16, 17, & 21
Bb Activity
Week 8
Oct 27
Respiratory & Cardio Chapters 18, & 19
Bb Activity
Week 9
Nov 3 Back & Neck, Spinal Cord Injuries Chapter 20 & 22
Bb Activity
Week 10
Nov 10 Neurological, MS, & Epilepsy Chapters 25, 27 & 28
Bb Activity
Week 11
Nov 17 TBI, CVA, CP Chapters 29, 31, & 32
Bb Activity
Week 12
Nov 24 MS, Muscular Dystrophy, Renal Disease Chapters 28, 33, & 34
Bb Activity
Week 13
Dec 1 Assistive Technology Handouts; Websites
Week 14
Dec 8 Final Exam Due; Conferences


Anatomical Chart. (2000). The world's best anatomical charts (3rd Ed.). Skokie, IL: Author.

Bach, J.R. (1999). Guide to the evaluation and management of neuromuscular disease. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Elsevier.

Bellenir, K. (Ed.).(1999). Brain disorders sourcebook. Detroit, MI: Omigraphics.

Bowe, F. (2000). Physical, sensory, and health disabilities: An introduction. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Brodwin, M. G., Tellez, F., & Brodwin, S. (1995). Medical, psychological and vocational aspects of disability. Athens, GA: Elliot & Fitzpatrick.

Brotzman, S.B. (Ed.).(1996). Handbook of orthopedic rehabilitation. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Elsevier.

Corbet, B. (2002). Spinal network: The total wheelchair resource book. Horsham, PA: New Mobility Magazine.

Dirckx, J.H. (Ed.). (2001). Stedman's concise medical dictionary for the health professions, (4th Ed.). New York: Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins.

Evans, R.W. (2003). Saunders manual of neurologic practice. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Elsevier.

Falvo, D. (1999). Medical and psychological aspects of chronic illness and disability (2nd Ed.). Boston: Jones & Bartlett.

Gylys, B., & Wedding, M.E. (1999). Medical terminology: A systems approach (4th Ed.). Philadelphia, PA: F.A. Davis.

Kaplansky, B.D. (Ed.). (2000). Occupational Low Back Pain: Aggressive Nonsurgical Care. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Kottke, F.J., & Lehmann, J.F. (1990). Krusen's handbook of physical medicine and rehabilitation. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Elsevier.

Leonard, P. (2001). Building a Medical Vocabulary (5th Ed.) With Spanish Translations. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: W B Saunders (Elsevier).

Lysons, K. (1995). Understanding hearing loss. London, UK: Jessica Kingsley Publishing.

Mullen, B.D., & McGinn, K.A. (1992, Rev.). Ostomy Book: Living Comfortably with Colostomies, Ileostomies and Urostomies. Boulder, CO: Bull Publishing.

Neuwirth, M., & Osborn, K. (2001). The scoliosis sourcebook. New York: McGraw Hill.

Rubin, A.L., & Rubin, A. (1999). Diabetes for dummies. New York: Wiley.

Senelick, R.C., & Dougherty, K. (1999). The spinal cord injury handbook for patients and their families. Stamford, CT: Thompson Learning.

Seymour, R. (2000). Prosthetics and orthotics: Lower limb and spinal. New York: Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins.

Shipes, E. A. & Lehr, S. T. (1980). Sexual counseling for ostomates. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas.

Venes, D., Taber, C.W., & Thomas, C.L.(Eds.). (2001). Taber's cyclopedic medical dictionary. Philadelphia, PA: F.A. Davis.

Willis, M.C., & Kirk, H.W. (2002) Medical Terminology: A programmed learning approach to the language of health care (5th Ed.). New York: Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins.

Internet Resources (see also master list of web resources on Bb)

American Association of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Center for Disease Control

Family Village a wide variety of resources

Great Lakes ADA and IT Center

Georgia Tech Center for Assistive Technology & Environmental
Access (CATEA)

National Institutes of Health

National Library of Medicine

New Mobility magazine -a wonderful resources re: disability and spinal cord injury

Office of the Surgeon General

Parents Let's Unite for Kids (PLUK) Assistive Technology guide

Rehabilitation Engineering Society of North America

Spinal Cord Injury Information Network

Trace Center (assistive technology)

F.A. Davis Company – Free Medical Resources

Last modified: Thursday, 14 December 2006, 06:16 PM