Physical Therapy

Children With Developmental Challenges 3(2+1)

Lesson 21 : Down Syndrome

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can be used to treat Down syndrome children, especially at a later age, when the basic skills have already been learned. Because there are several levels of severity in the symptoms of Down syndrome, an early consultation with a physical therapist can help you determine when to get started and what type of therapy is needed to best help your child. Read on to learn more about how to treat Down syndrome with physical therapy.


  1. Step 1: Use physical therapy to teach a child to move, sit and walk properly. Down syndrome children learn to walk later than other children and need help developing muscle strength and coordination to make the process easier. Sitting, rolling over and jumping or climbing also require practice through special exercises that a physical therapist can especially design.

  2. Step 2: Talk to a physical therapist if your child has problems sitting up and holding his head up straight. This may indicate a weak upper spine and require special treatment by either a doctor (surgery may be needed in extreme cases) or a physical therapist who can help the child work to strengthen the neck muscles.

  3. Step 3: Use physical therapy to treat ligamentous laxity, a condition in which the joints are so loose that a child has problems walking, standing or balancing properly. A physical therapist may help compensate for loose joints by helping a child develop better muscle strength and balance.

  4. Step 4: Talk to a physical therapist if your child needs help refining skills later in life. While an older child may be able to walk, stand and sit properly, she may have problems with posture, which can in turn lead to back pain, twisted legs or knee problems. Physical therapy can help children change habits and relearn techniques and stances.

  5. Step 5: Make exercise a part of daily life. A therapist will help you learn what activities are best to improve your child's physical strength and abilities. As a child gets older, a therapist becomes more of a consultant, teaching parents the right exercises for children to perform at home in between therapy sessions
Last modified: Friday, 13 April 2012, 6:42 AM