At present, health is at such a low priority in most government services for those with intellectual disability that any assistance from a supranational organization is likely to make better health a more respectable aim (Beange, Lennox, Parmenter, 1999). Because patients with intellectual disabilities communicate their symptoms less ably than other people, they are more at risk of misdiagnosis and inappropriate or absent treatment (Beange, et al., 1999).
In Sydney, a study was done that showed obesity is the common disorder among those with intellectual disability; 53% being females and 28% being males (Beange, et al. , 1999). “Greater effort must be made to promote increases in physical activity participation among persons with Down syndrome and developmental disabilities in order to reduce the potential health risks associated with low fitness and sedentary behavior” (Rimmer, 2004).
Examples of diseases that are associated not maintaining an ideal weight include: hypertension, predisposition to diabetes, elevated cholesterol, increase heart workload, increased likelihood of sleep apnea, stress on joints and impaired mobility (Mandrola, 2004). The strength levels of adults with mental retardation have been shown to be very poor (Rimmer, 1994). Because of this, adults with mental retardation are at an obstacle to exercise for any length of time.
The high level of obesity (excess fat) found in people with mental retardation expose them to a higher risk for many different types of diseases that are associated with high levels of body fat (Rimmer, 1994). Deinstitutionalization of individuals with MR and developmental disabilities has increased the demand for dental services for these patients by community practitioners (Waldman, Perlman, 2001). Monitoring the health care of the residents can be difficult when the delivery of service and health records is disseminated among multiple providers and locations (Waldman, et al., 2001).
Deinsitutionalization, with the resulting group homes and community residences, has resulted in a breakdown in the continuity of health services-especially dental services. Parent/guardians now assume the responsibility for obtaining needed dental care from community practitioners (Waldman, et al. , 2001). The successes of community-based programs depend on the availability of support services, including the following: Private dental practitioners who are trained and willing to provide care (Waldman, et al., 2001).
Studies have shown that most dental students receive minimal preparation in the care of patients with special needs. For example, in 1999, “… 53% of dental schools provided fewer than 5 hours of didactic training in special care dentistry. Clinical instruction in this area constituted only 0-5% of the predoctoral student’s time (Waldman, et al. , 2001). No nationwide services have been conducted to determine the prevalence of dental disease among the various populations with disabilities (Waldman, et al. , 2001).
There is a general agreement that the population with special needs has higher rates of poor oral hygiene, gingivitis and periodontitis than the general population. Moderate and severe gingivitis is almost always present-with degree and extent increasing the age and degree of mental retardation-especially for individuals with Down Syndrome (Waldman, et al. , 2001). In Sydney, periodontal disease and orthodontic problems most common (86%) among those with intellectual disabilities, which are twice as, frequent as general population (Beange, et al. , 1999).