Down syndrome (DS) affects approximately 6,000 (1 in 700) babies born in the United States (US) each year. Most children with Down syndrome experience physical and developmental delays, and may have physical conditions requiring treatment. Individuals with Down syndrome experience cognitive (intellectual) delays, but the effect is usually mild to moderate and is not indicative of the many strengths that each individual possesses. Approximately 400,000 people living in the US and more than 6 million people worldwide have Down syndrome. Physical and occupational therapists work with individuals with Down syndrome from infancy through adulthood to help them function at their maximum potential and lead healthy, productive lives.
Down syndrome may be detected during pregnancy by screening or diagnostic tests. If not detected before birth, Down syndrome usually is detectable at birth by the baby’s physical characteristics. These physical characteristics include:
- Low muscle tone
- A single deep crease across the palm of the hand
- A slightly flattened facial profile, and an upward slant to the eyes
How does Physical Therapy & Rehab Specialists help with down syndrome
The physical and occupational therapist is an important partner in health care and fitness for anyone diagnosed with DS. Therapists help people with DS gain strength and movement skills in order to function at their best throughout all the stages of life.
Specifically, physical and occupational therapists work with children with DS to improve muscle strength, balance, coordination, and movement skills to improve independence with daily activities and quality of life. Early intervention by a physical or occupational therapist helps a child with DS develop to their maximum potential.