• Down syndrome (DS), also called Trisomy 21, is a condition in which extra genetic material causes delays in the way a child develops, both mentally and physically.

    The physical features and medical problems associated with Down syndrome can vary widely from child to child. While some kids with DS need a lot of medical attention, others lead healthy lives.
    Though Down syndrome can't be prevented, it can be detected before a child is born. The health problems that may go along with DS can be treated, and many resources are available to help kids and their families who are living with the condition.

    Physiotherapy & Down Syndrome

    The physical therapist is an important partner in health care and fitness for anyone diagnosed with DS. Therapists help people with DS to gain strength and movement to function at their best throughout all the stages of life.

    Specifically, physical therapists work with children with DS to improve muscle strength, balance, coordination, and movement skills to improve daily activities and quality of life. The purpose of early intervention is to prevent a child with DS from developing atypical movement patterns.

    • Improving strength. The physical therapist will teach you and the child exercises to increase muscle strength. The therapist will identify games and fun tasks that improve strength. As the child grows, the therapist will identify new games and activities to reduce the risk of obesity and increase heart health.
    • Improving developmental skills. Your physical therapist will help your child learn to master motor skills such as crawling, pulling to standing, and walking.  Research has shown that infants with DS can benefit from such activities as walking on a treadmill. Physical therapists can help caregivers support their child's movement development by providing hands-on training for positioning, movement, feeding, and play. Your therapist also may suggest changes at home to encourage movement development, communication, hearing, vision, and play skills.
    • Improving balance and coordination. The physical therapist may use equipment such as a firm, round pillow or an exercise ball to improve the child's ability to hold the head erect or to maintain a sitting position. Bilateral coordination skills, such as jumping, skipping, and dribbling a ball may be incorporated into therapy.
    • Improve physical fitness. The physical therapist will help determine the specific exercises, diet, and community involvement that can promote healthy living choices and prevent complications of DS such as activity limitations and decreased participation with siblings or peers.