Down syndrome, sometimes called Trisomy 21, is one of the most common chromosomal genetic disorders, affecting approximately 1 in every 700 babies born in the U.S. Most experience developmental and physical delays, and often have several physical conditions that require additional treatment.
There are many ways our Akron physical therapy services can help children with Down syndrome, working with them from infancy through adulthood to help them reach their maximum level of functioning and go on to lead healthy, productive lives.
How Does Down Syndrome Impair Physical Function?
Babies born with Down syndrome have an extra copy of chromosome 21, altering the typical development of both the brain and body and resulting in varying ranges of both intellectual and physical challenges.
Therapy & Wellness Connection offers Akron physical therapy in your home, school or work environment, working side-by-side with our patients and their families to help sidestep or minimize some of the most common complications of the condition, such as obesity and developmental delay, as well as help improve and maintain cardiovascular fitness, as between 40 and 60 percent of those with Down syndrome suffer some type of congenital heart disease.
One of the defining physical characteristics of Down syndrome is low muscle tone, lower bone density, decreased strength and trouble with posture/balance – all of which can delay motor development (movement). They also frequently have problems with feeding and hand use challenges, and sometimes intense pain from joint problems. Each of these can be addressed and improved with help from our Akron physical therapy services.
How Akron Physical Therapy Can Help Children With Down Syndrome
The good news is that many teens and adults with Down syndrome go on to be active participants in family and community activities, leading lives that are both active and productive.
Our dedicated physical therapists work with individuals, families and other health care providers to reduce the impact of these conditions – in some cases preventing them from developing in the first place. Best results are when a child is receiving adequate medical services and supportive home and educational environments that incorporate physical therapy.
Physical therapists work to help children with this condition improve their muscle strength, coordination, movement, balance and gain their peak level of independence in activities of daily life.
The Top 5 Ways Physical Therapists Treat Children With Down Syndrome:
- Strength-building. There are a number of exercises we can practice to help you child increase their strength.These can include fun games, adjusted to their abilities as they grow, to help maintain heart health and lower the risk of obesity.
- Developmental skills. Children with Down syndrome are delayed when mastering motor skills like crawling, standing, walking and safe eating. We can work on this in the clinic, as well as at home and in day care settings, giving parents and caregivers training for how to support these emerging skills in a way that’s safe and efficient.
- Improvement of balance, coordination and control of posture. This often starts quite early, with exercises like using a ball to help improve the child’s ability to hold their head up or maintain a sitting position. Other things like jumping or throwing a ball can be worked into a fun physical therapy regime.
- Improving physical fitness. Promotion of healthy living choices can help reduce some of the common complications that stem from cardiovascular problems and obesity.
- Educating parents and caregivers. Little of what we do will have the maximum impact if we don’t educate parents to carryover these skills and incorporate these exercises in everyday life. It’s a critical part of therapy and the child’s success.
Therapy & Wellness Connection – your connection to a life without limitations – provides physical therapy to children with Down syndrome in Cleveland, Brecksville-Broadview Heights, Akron and surrounding communities. We also offer summer camp, day programs, education services, vocational counseling and more. Call us at (330) 748-4807 or send us an email.
Facts about Down Syndrome, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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NEW: Functional Fitness Class by Brecksville Occupational Therapist, July 25, 2019, Akron Physical Therapy Blog