Glossary: P-R


Relating to the back portion of the roof of the mouth.

Palmar grasp:
Using only fingers, not the thumb, to grasp an object in the palm of the hand.

Palsy or Paralysis:
Problems in the control of voluntary movement.

Loss or impairment of muscle function.

Parent Teacher Association (PTA):
A community of school group consisting of teachers and parents working together to improve education.

Parent-professional partnership:
The teaming of parents and teachers (or doctors, nurses, or other professionals) to work together to facilitate the development of babies and children with special needs.

Paresis or plegia:
Weakness or paralysis. In cerebral palsy, these terms are typically combined with another phrase that describes the distribution of paralysis and weakness, e.g., paraparesis.*

Parkinson’s Disease:
A disease of part of the brain regulating muscle movement.

A controversial technique in which a child’s limbs are systematically and repeatedly manipulated (e.g. in a crawling or walking pattern) by others in an attempt to imprint proper movement patterns upon the brain. Also called the Doman-Delacato method.

Peptic Ulcer:
A cavity in the lining of the stomach.

Relating to the gums and bones that surround the teeth.

Periventricular Leukomalascia (PVL):
PVL is a type of brain injury involving an ischemic infarction (death of brain cells due to inadequate blood circulation) of the white matter of the brain adjacent to the lateral ventricles. Peri means near; ventricular refers to the ventricles or fluid spaces of the brain; leukomalasia is softening of the white matter of the brain. The softening occurs because brain tissue in this area has died. Since PVL results in the loss of vital areas of neural tissue, particularly motor fibers that control muscle movements, cerebral palsy (CP) develops in most cases. It is likely to be of a moderate to severe degree and either spastic diplegia or spastic quadriplegia, with the legs more involved than the upper extremities. Mild to severe mental retardation may occur, but some children with PVL and s

PET Scan:
A brain imaging methodology which produces pictures of brain metabolic activities.

Petit mal seizures:
See Absence seizures.

The bones of fingers or toes.

An anticonvulsant medication; also, a sedative.

Phenol is injected into the nerves or muscles to weaken or paralyze very spastic muscles.

Phenol Block:
Phenol blocks are similar to Botox injections. Phenol has been used for the past 20 years, but has certain disadvantages when compared with Botox. The injections are quite painful, and may cause muscle tenderness for several days. There is also a small amount of permanent muscle damage caused by the injections.

Voice production.

Smallest unit of sound found in speech.

Relating to articulated sounds.

A physician specializing in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation; experts in the medical and physical treatment of disabiling illnesses and injury.

Physical therapist (PT):
A therapist who who assess and treats problems with gross motor skills.

Physical Therapy (PT):
A clinical program aimed at improving motor skills, particularly gross motor skills.

Pincer grasp:
The use of the thumb and forefinger to grasp small objects .

The selection of the educational program for a child who needs special education programs.

Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS):
The PASS is a provision of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program that allows individuals to develop a plan for using income and resources to purchase assistive technology, take vocational training, or otherwise attain self-supporting status. Ordinarily, people would lose SSI payments if either their income or their resources exceeded specified levels. Approval of a PASS by the Social Security Administration allows these limits to be waived.

Plantar flexion:
Downward pointing motion of the foot.

Plantar surface:
Sole of the foot.

Postural responses:
Infants at different ages will vary in how their body, arms, or legs respond when the infant is put in different positions. For example, a full-term newborn, when held with his or her face pointing down, will usually flex the back (curve it downward toward the floor). If the response is straightening of the back at this early age, the infant may be showing the first signs of cerebral palsy.

Positioning or alignment of the body.

Prader-Willi Syndrome:
An uncommon, non-inherited birth defect with unknown causes. It is characterized by low muscle tone, insatiable appetite, developmental delays, variable degrees of mental retardation, short stature, in adults, small hands and feet and behavior problems which can be severe.

Understand how and why language is used.

Development of hypertension, edema and protein loss in the urine in pregnant women. It occurs generally after the 20th week of pregnancy. It can proceed on to eclampsia.

Primitive reflexes:
Early reflexes that usually disappear after about six months of age.

Progressive Supranuclear Palsy:
Progressive supranuclear palsy is a rare brain disorder that causes serious and permanent problems with control of gait and balance. The most obvious sign of the disease is an inability to aim the eyes properly, which occurs because of lesions in the area of the brain that coordinates eye movements. Resource: Society for Progressive Supranuclear Palsy

Input that encourages a child to perform a movement or activity. See Cue.

Turning inward of a hand or foot.

Lying on the stomach.

Sensory input from muscles and joints to the central nervous system.

Protection and Advocacy (P&A):
Each State has a P&A system or agency. These entities provide legal assistance, representation, and other advocacy services to people with developmental and other disabilities. The P&A system participates in the Assistive Technology Act of 1998 (Tech Act) program to provide advocacy services in connection with access to assistive technology.

Psychomotor (complex partial) seizures:
Seizures which cause decreased alertness and changes in behavior.

Public Law 94-142:

Relating to the lungs.

Pulmonary Disease:
A disease of the lungs. e.g. pneumonia.


Paralysis of the four limbs and the body trunk.

Qualified Individual with a Disability:
An individual with a disability who satisfies the requisite skill, experience, education and other job-related requirements of the employment position such individual holds or desires, and who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of such position.


Range of motion (ROM):
The degree of movement present at a joint.

Readily Achievable:
Easily accomplishable and able to be carried out without much difficulty or expense. In determining whether an action is readily achievable, factors to be considered include nature and cost of the action, overall financial resources and the effect on expenses and resources, legitimate safety requirements, impact on the operation of a site, and, if applicable, overall financial resources, size, and type of operation of any parent corporation or entity.

Reasonable Accommodation:
(1) Modification or adjustment to a job application process that enables a qualified applicant with a disability to be considered for the position such qualified applicant desires; (2) modifications or adjustments to the work environment, or to the manner or circumstances under which the position held or desired is customarily performed, that enables qualified individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions of that position; or (3) modifications or adjustments that enable a covered entity’s employee with a disability to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment as are enjoyed by its other similarly situated employees without disabilities.

Receptive language:
The ability to understand spoken and written communication as well as gestures.

Reciprocal motion:
The alternate movements of arms and legs.

An involuntary movement in response to stimulation such as touch, pressure, or joint movement.

Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as Amended:
This statute establishes the Federal – State vocational rehabilitation system for people with disabilities and includes key civil rights provisions, such as the famous Section 504, that were the forerunners of the ADA. Since 1986, it has included several provisions requiring the inclusions of assistive technology devices and services among the range of available services offered by the vocational rehabilitation system.

Providing a pleasant consequence (positive reinforcement) or removing an unpleasant consequence (negative reinforcement) after a behavior in order to increase or maintain that behavior.

Related services:
Any service that enables a child to benefit from his or her educational program.

Repetitive Motion:
The sequential continuation of a movement.


Respite care:
Skilled care and supervision of an adult or child with disabilities that can be provided in the family’s home or the home of a care-provider. Respite care may be available for several hours per week or for overnight stays and is often publicly funded.

The lining of the back portion of the eye which receives visual images.

Retinopathy of Prematurity (R.O.P.):
A condition in which high concentrations of oxygen received while a baby is on a respirator damages capillaries in the eye, leading to myopia or a detached retina.

Drawing back a part of the body.

Rh Incompatibility:
A blood condition in which antibodies in pregnant woman’s blood can attack fetal blood cells, impairing the fetus’s supply of oxygen.*

Extremely high muscle tone in any position, combined with very limited movements.

Rood Method:
A techinque used by some Ots and PTs to desensitize overly sensitive areas of the body through brushing, the application of heat or cold, and other methods.

A newborn reflex in which babies turn their mouths toward the breast or bottle to feed.

Also known as German measles, rubella is a viral infection that can damage the nervous system in the developing fetus.