Physiotherapy intervention for Down Syndrome
Physiotherapy starts at an early age to promote skills like rolling, sitting and crawling.
Why do children with Down Syndrome need Physiotherapy?
Individuals with DS have hypotonia ( low muscle tone) and as babies they are often identified as being “floppy”. The level of hypotonia can vary from child to child but with intervention and improved movement skills the muscle tone will improve.
Children with Down Syndrome have decreased muscle strength and this affects a childs ability to carry out smooth purposeful movement.
Children with DS also have ligament laxity which makes them extra flexible at their joints but having too much movement at joints can make a person unstable and it can cause difficulty with early skills like crawling and standing.
Children with DS can have shorter arms and legs which can cause difficulties with balance and movement.
In addition there are sensory processing deficits in all the sensory systems as well as impaired ability to take in and register sensory input. Some children can present as clumsy, easily distracted, have poor listening and attention skills, seem to play” too rough” or dislike certain noises or textures and using a sensory integrative approach in physiotherapy is beneficial to these children.
Physiotherapy aims to address any developmental problems that arise, to improve muscle strength and to increase tone in order to help a child maximize their function. It also aims to prevent poor compensatory movement patterns that can cause problems later in life.
The goal of Physiotherapy is to enable an individual to achieve maximal functional independence for improved quality of life regardless of a persons age or ability.
Paediatric Physiotherapy Services at DSCork
- Julie Gilmore is a Chartered Physiotherapist with over 20 years experience.
- She is a mother to 4 children and her eldest child has Down Syndrome.
- She is a member of the Physiotherapy special interest group in Paediatrics and also of Intellectual Disability.
- She has a special interest in Sensory Integration.