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Systemic Disabilities

Systemic disabilities are conditions affecting one or more of the body’s systems. These include the respiratory, immunological, neurological, and circulatory systems. There are many kinds of systemic impairments, varying significantly in their effects and symptoms; below are brief descriptions of some of the more common types.

  • Cancer is a malignant growth that can affect any part of the body. Treatment can be time-consuming, painful, and sometimes result in permanent disability.
  • Chemical dependency is considered a disabling condition when it is documented that a person has received treatment for a drug or alcohol addiction and is not currently using. Chemical dependency can cause permanent cognitive impairments and carries with it a great deal of stigma.
  • Diabetes mellitus causes a person to lose the ability to regulate blood sugar. People with diabetes often need to follow a strict diet and may require insulin injections. During a diabetic reaction, a person may experience confusion, sudden personality changes, or loss of consciousness. In extreme cases, diabetes can also cause vision loss, cardiovascular disease, kidney failure, stroke, or necessitate the amputation of limbs.
  • Epilepsy/seizure disorder causes a person to experience a loss of consciousness. Episodes, or seizures, vary from short absence or “petit mal” seizures to the less common “grand mal.” Seizures are frequently controlled by medications and are most often not emergency situations.
  • Epstein Barr virus/chronic fatigue syndrome is an autoimmune disorder which causes extreme fatigue, loss of appetite, and depression. Physical or emotional stress may adversely affect a person with this condition.
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV+), which causes AIDS, inhibits one’s ability to fight off illness and infections. Symptoms vary greatly. People with HIV or AIDS are often stigmatized.
  • Lyme’s disease is a multisystemic condition, which can cause paralysis, fatigue, fever, dermatitis, sleeping problems, memory dysfunction, cognitive difficulties, and depression.
  • Lupus erythematosis can cause inflammatory lesions, neurological problems, extreme fatigue, persistent flu-like symptoms, impaired cognitive ability, and connective tissue dysfunction, and mobility impairments. Lupus most often affects young women.
  • Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) often results from prolonged exposure to chemicals. A person with MCS becomes increasingly sensitive to chemicals found in everyday environments. Reactions can be caused by cleaning products, pesticides, petroleum products, vehicle exhaust, tobacco smoke, room deodorizers, perfumes, and scented personal products. Though reactions vary, nausea, rashes, light-headedness, and respiratory distress are common to MCS.
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a progressive neurological condition with a variety of symptoms, such as loss of strength, numbness, vision impairments, tremors, and depression. The intensity of MS symptoms can vary greatly; one day a person might be extremely fatigued and the next day feel strong. Extreme temperatures can also adversely affect a person with MS.
  • Renal disease/failure can result in loss of bladder control, extreme fatigue, pain, and toxic reactions that can cause cognitive difficulties. Some people with renal disease are on dialysis and have to adhere to a rigid schedule.

Office of Academic Success
240 Briggs Library
600 East 4th Street
Morris, MN 56267

Phone: 320-589-6178
Fax: 320-589-6473
Relay Access: 7-1-1
TTY Relay: 1-800-627-3529


8 a.m.–4:30 p.m