Brecksvill physical therapy Down Syndrome

Benefits of Akron Down Syndrome Physical Therapy

Raising a child with Down syndrome is full of so many unique joys and challenges. With loving parents, proper medical care and early intervention therapy (some combination of speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy, starting before age 5) many children with Down syndrome go on to lead healthy, happy and productive lives.

While many parents of a baby or toddler with Down syndrome can see the value of speech therapy and even occupational therapy (skills of independent living).  Physical therapy for Down syndrome may seem unnecessary because parents are already expecting delays characteristic of the diagnoses. Most children with Down syndrome DO learn to do all those things, albeit at around 24 months rather than 12 months for typically-developing children.

When physical therapists work with children who have Down syndrome, they aren’t as concerned about those missed milestones as we are that WHEN they walk, run, play, skip and jump, they will be less likely to develop some of the functional and orthopedic issues to which people with Down Syndrome are prone.

How Physical Therapy Helps Akron Kids Withe Down Syndrome

Physical therapy involves treatment for motor function issues. We can start as early as a few months old, with exercises to help him/her hold up their head, pull up to a sitting position and develop enough core strength to sit up.

Because babies learn with all their senses. Not being able do these things is an impediment to their cognition, language and learning development. Doing so helps ensure they will be able to reach their maximum potential.

Two of the most common conditions for which physical therapists treat infants, toddlers or children with Down syndrome is for one or both of the following:

  • Ligamentous laxity. This is a chronic looseness/flexibility in ligaments that results in constant pain. In other words, the ligaments, which hold bones together, have more “give” or slack than usual. It’s especially pronounced in infancy. One might think flexibility a good thing, but the result is joints that are not as stable, thus resulting in balance issues.
  • Hypotonia. Hyponia is when there is looseness of tone in one’s muscle while the body is at rest. The symptoms are often noticed right at birth for babies with Down syndrome (i.e., he feels”floppy” or “like a rag doll.” On the infant’s bag, the legs and arms and head will fall to the side. That’s hypotonia and it affects most children with Down syndrome though to varying degrees. It will diminish over time, but again, to varying degrees and it is considered a lifelong condition. Because motor skills grow one on top of the other a deficit, receiving treatment early minimizes the long-term impact.
  • Decreased strength. Little ones who have Down syndrome have lower overall muscle strength. The god news is it can be greatly improved, but it requires a great deal of repetition and practice. Akron Down syndrome physical therapists know improving this is essential because otherwise, children will overcompensate.
  • Shorter arms and legs. In children with Down syndrome, legs and arms are disproportionately short compared to one’s truck, resulting in trouble sitting, balancing, climbing, etc.

Our Akron physical therapists providing services to children in Northeast Ohio, including numerous persons with Down syndrome, we  truly believe that when a person masters autonomy, we effectively can hand them the keys to their future. And that’s what our Akron physical therapists are all about!

Therapy & Wellness Connection – your connection to a life without limitations – is a pediatric therapy center providing speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy and ABA therapy to children with special needs in Northeast Ohio. We also offer summer camp, day programs, education services, vocational counseling and more. Call us at (330) 748-4807 or send us an email. Serving Brecksville, Akron, Cleveland and surrounding communities in Northeast Ohio.

More Blog Entries:

SPLs: Board Games Are a Winner for Autism Speech Language Therapy, May 8, 2019, Akron Down Syndrome Physical Therapy Blog